After Six Years, the Florida Statewide Assessments are Getting Replaced

Florida+Standards+Assessments+and+Common+Core+Standards+are+being+eliminated+and+replaced+by+Florida+Assessment+of+Student+Thinking+and+Benchmarks+for+Excellent+Student+Thinking+by+2022-2023.

Sofia Felan

Florida Standards Assessments and Common Core Standards are being eliminated and replaced by Florida Assessment of Student Thinking and Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking by 2022-2023.

Aaron Rojas, Staff Writer

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order is moving towards replacing the Florida Standards Assessment with a new progress monitoring system called the Florida Assessment of Student Thinking for the next school year of 2022-2023. Common Core Standards will also be eliminated and replaced with Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking by 2022-2023.

After ending the use of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test back in the 2014-2015 school year, the FSA was introduced by former governor and current United States Senator, Rick Scott. However, back in 2019, DeSantis initiated Executive Order 19-32 implementing the initial public feedback on the Florida Standards covered in the assessment.

This new system will fully implement progress monitoring instead of end-of-year standardized testing, making Florida the first state in the U.S. to adopt this change. Unlike the FCAT and FSA final assessments, the FAST will convert the final exam into three shorter exams taking place each fall, winter and spring to provide real-time data growth throughout the year instead of final scores alone, which are usually received during the summer.

The FSA has been the final exam for the state of Florida for over 6 years, and elected officials, parents and some board members criticized the FSA exam as lacking in modern resources. The FSA and End of Course test scores had also dropped before and during the pandemic, which led to calls for a revision on the final exams.

I’m curious as to how the new FAST exam will be scored, like for example do you have to pass two of the three exams, improve in all three, or do you have to meet certain criteria,”

— freshman Miguel Ortiz-Milian

For the FSA English Language Arts test taken from Grades 3 to 10, there was a 4% decrease in overall scores from 2019 to 2021, meanwhile FSA & EOC’s math test taken from Grades 3 to 8 saw a 7.7% decrease in scores. Overall scores fell between 2019 and 2021 in Florida.

Some new benchmarks coming with the BEST Standards include the introduction of cursive handwriting, foundations of literacy and financial literacy. The rest of the benchmarks will be improvements to existing Common Core standards. Furthermore, the Geometry EOC will be replaced by either the Scholastic Assessment Test or American College Test. The graduation requirement for students will be participating in the new SAT or ACT for Geometry; however, a passing score will not be required.

The Grade 9 standardized ELA will also be phased out, as students will now be required to take the Civic Literacy Test in their senior year, which covers the U.S. citizenship exam benchmarks and Supreme Court cases, and a passing score will not be required. However, the Algebra EOC is still required to be passed in this new system. These changes will take effect next school year, while the Civic Literacy Test has already been in effect since last school year.

“It feels like yesterday when I took the first FSA for math and reading back in 2015. I think changing the FSA after six years makes sense, especially the writing FSA where it usually includes the Everglades as the final prompt every year personally, and replacing the final exam with three exams throughout the year is going to be interesting,” freshman Jadlin Sobrino said.

School districts and board members from South Florida are approving the new changes from the governor and the Florida Department of Education. Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho congratulated the governor on his plan to change the education system. Additionally, Broward County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright is on board with the new system announced.

Although these proposals are in the executive order, certain changes might come later in the year with new information regarding the executive order and the qualification system for passing the FAST. There are also several questions regarding how much material the three exams in this new monitoring system will cover over the next course of years.