Will Another Change in Florida Testing Challenge Students?

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Tiffany Beh

Starting with the 2022-23 school year, Florida students from grades VPK through 10 will be switching from FSA to the new FAST test.

From the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in 1998 to the return of the Florida Standards Assessment in 2015, Florida has once again changed the official statewide test mandatory for all Voluntary Prekindergartener to tenth grade students to graduate. Florida’s new and official standardized test has been given the name of Florida’s Assessment of Student Thinking.

Starting the 2022-2023 school year, the new system will have all high school underclassmen take 40-question-long standardized tests for three subjects—reading, writing and math—three times over the school year. The main purpose of this change is to implement progress monitoring instead of end-of-year standardized testing.

Florida is the first state in the nation to fully implement this progress monitoring method and eliminate Common Core, a set of academic standards setting the benchmarks for students’ performance in both math and language arts. Instead, FAST follows the Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking standards. This new method provides constant feedback, allowing for students, teachers and parents to receive timely data and improve academically, if necessary. With three opportunities to check in on students’ growth, Florida educators aim to see real improvement in the state’s overall education. 

[FAST] is not as long or intense [as FSA]. It doesn’t put as much pressure at the end of the year, so I think it’s better that they can work up to it. But at the same time, there have been a couple of times where it hasn’t worked, and we just don’t know enough about it, so that’s unnerving,”

— English teacher Ms. Vazquezbello

“I believe FAST is a very creative way to test us based on what we learned throughout the school year. But, it also takes up a whole class or multiple classes [to take the test] when we could be preparing for the one at the end of the year instead,” sophomore Lily Goron said.

Additionally, the American Psychological Association surveyed teens, ages 13 to 17, about the impact of stress on their lives. The survey determined that school was the main source of stress for 83% of the surveyed teens. This new method of progress monitoring strives to lower students’ stress by administering three assessments and spreading them out more evenly. These shorter tests are planned to take place in the fall, winter and spring. 

“Some students might benefit by having the reading test split up into three parts since they would not have to cram everything into their brains at the last minute. However, students will now worry about three different state assessments. They will have to study harder throughout the year, which can be more stressful to some students,” sophomore Divya Dave said. 

The FSA is a once-a-year test that takes up to two days to complete, each session lasting 90 minutes. In total, the FSA consists of 60 questions with about 180 minutes to complete. On the contrary, FAST consists of three sessions spread throughout the school year with 120 questions to answer in about 180-270 minutes in total. It is supposed to take several hours to conduct rather than days

“In my case, this would’ve been my last year of FSA, but now I’m last-minute introduced into a completely different testing mechanism that will determine the fate of my graduation. The Florida government is playing with my graduation,” sophomore Taronish Unwalla said.  

Florida plans to use FAST to test and assist all current and future public school students. Meanwhile, VPK to tenth graders will continue to adapt to these new testing methods in order to complete their graduation requirements.