The reprieve is over: FL students will have to take state exams in 2020-21, even in a pandemic

Photo by pxhere.com

Earlier this year, Florida public school students got a reprieve from taking standardized exams, as the COVID-19 crisis was emerging.

But that reprieve is over.

The Florida Department of Education confirmed Friday in a memo that standardized tests will be a part of the school calendar in 2020-21.

The statewide exams for reading, math and science in certain grades, as well as what’s called “end-of-course” exams in some subjects for high school kids, play a key role in making sure students are mastering material needed to graduate. The tests are based on Florida’s academic standards.

And the exam results for years have been used to judge schools with A-F letter grades.

The exam requirements were listed Friday inside a packet called: “2020-2021 School Year Information.”

It said that the following statewide assessments will be administered in the 2020-2021 school year:

• Florida Standards Assessment: Grades 3–10 English Language Arts; grade 10 ELA retake; grades 3–8 mathematics; and Algebra 1 (including retake) and geometry EOC (end-of-course) assessments;
• Statewide Science Assessment: grades 5 and 8
• Next Generation Sunshine State Standards EOC assessments: Biology 1, Civics and U.S. History.

In another memo issued Friday, the DOE also announced a new initiative to allow public high school students to participate in college entrance exams — ACT or SAT —  free of charge for the 2020-21 school year. The exams are used for college admissions.

The money for the exams come from federal CARE Act dollars, part of a stimulus package for coronavirus relief.

Overall, school districts will get $8-million for the college entrance exam initiative, according to the DOE documents.

However, language in the memo is unclear about how many students will get the opportunity.

The memo described the primary purpose of the program as a way for all high school students, including disadvantaged students, to have a least one opportunity to take the SAT or ACT, for college admissions purposes and/or scholarships. Students do take those exams elsewhere, at other locations and at a cost.

However, the language in the memo implies that districts will determine which students will take the exams.

The college entrance exams can be a ticket to college, particularly for students who never thought they’d go on to higher education.

At the same time, some colleges and universities have stopped using the ACT and SAT college entrance exams, using other measures for admissions.

Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University, majoring in English with a focus in editing, writing, and media. While at FSU, she served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine, Nomadic Noles. Last fall, she fulfilled another editorial internship with Rowland Publishing, where she wrote for the Tallahassee Magazine, Emerald Coast Magazine, and 850 Business Magazine. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat. She spends her downtime traveling to all corners of Florida and beyond to practice lindy hop.