Hillsborough Schools lighten testing load for students

- The Hillsborough County School District is rolling back on the amount of time students will spend taking tests. The change comes after years of complaints from parents and teachers, that the volume of tests has gotten too great.

At a workshop Tuesday, school board members reviewed a four-page list of mandatory tests elementary students take each year. Board members slashed through several of the exams, cutting the list of mandatory tests down to two pages.

The remaining tests will be optional, at the teacher's discretion.

"We've listened to teachers; we've listened to students, and we've listened to parents. The testing is just overwhelming for them," said April Griffin, Chairman of the Hillsborough County School Board.

Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) and other state-mandated exams will remain the same. The change allows teachers to have flexibility with district-wide formative tests given throughout the school year.

"We're giving the teaches a lot more autonomy in the classroom so that they can do what they need to do for each individual student," said Griffin.

Rather than testing an entire class on one subject area, teachers will have the freedom to assess individual students' needs, and test a student or a group of students on one exam.

One of the goals, according to school board officials, is to bring a bigger focus back to students learning for understanding, rather than learning material just to pass a test.

"[The tests] are good to see how they're doing and progressing, but at the same time, it is a week or sometimes two weeks of stress," said Roy Burnett, who's son, Callen, often spends hours studying for his third grade tests.

While the focus of Tuesday's workshop was on elementary school testing, board members said the testing changes will affect students K through 12 starting in the 2016-2017 school year.

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