May 5, 2009

Florida could still jump forward on end-of-course exams

The St. Pete Times is reporting that the death of the Florida House bill mandating end-of-course (EOC) exams in high school starting in science is the death of end-of-course exams, at least for this year. I'm not so sure. If I remember correctly, the legislature authorized EOC exams in principle last year, and there is an alternative funding mechanism: stimulus dollars. Embedded in the stimulus bill is section 14006, which is part of the $5 billion discretionary amount given the U.S. Department of Education. The state's application for state stabilization funds probably satisfies the nominal requirement for Florida to be aligible for a state incentive fund, if the state asks for incentive funds to develop EOC exams. This is precisely the type of project that the state incentive fund is designed for; it would replace the single comprehensive test with a number of tests tied to specific courses and instead of having to upset science teachers (such as in physics and earth sciences) with subjects not included in the first round (the filed bill in the House excluded them), there could be development of a full range of EOC exams in science. Seems like an obvious "yes we'll do that" to me.

I could be wrong; there may be legitimate reasons not to apply for state incentive funds to develop EOC exams. What surprises me is that during the legislative session, there was no public discussion I am aware of about the possibility of using federal stimulus dollars to develop EOC exams. I have heard nothing publicly at all about this, yet it's been an obvious possibility, at least to me. Has any reporter asked Commissioner Eric Smith about this? Is there any legislator or legislative aide who has asked about it?

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Posted in Education policy on May 5, 2009 12:43 PM |