Local students required to take statewide assessments in-person during pandemic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — There have been a number of changes for students and teachers during this pandemic school year, but there’s one thing that has not changed: students will be required to take their state and end-of-course assessments.

Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole explains what parents need to know ahead of these exams, and how the Duval County School District is preparing.

“I don’t really think at this time it should be done, due to the fact that we’ve been dealing with the pandemic,” said Eddie Anderson.

It’s been a challenging year for students during this pandemic, to say the least.

Anderson told Cole that two of his three grandkids are school-aged, but they’ve been learning from home.

“They stayed home the whole time,” Anderson explained.

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Some students have been able to adjust to distance learning, but others haven’t had the right tools to be able to excel virtually.

According to a study from Common Sense Media, Texas, California and Florida have the most overall students without adequate internet service.

Their research also revealed that as of January 2020, another 12 million children still didn’t have the connections they needed for distance learning.

Students learning from home aren’t the only ones facing potential challenges. Students who have returned for in-person learning have had to adjust to a new environment that includes masks, face shields, desk shields, and social distancing from their peers.

But the one thing all of these students have in common is that regardless of their learning conditions, they will be required to take their state tests in person, which include:

  • Florida Standards Assessments
  • Next Generation Sunshine State Standards
  • End-of-course assessments

These state tests can be especially pivotal for third graders, who need a good reading score to go onto fourth grade.

“I think a lot of kids are not getting the proper teaching, and there’s so much distraction there,” said Anderson.

The state told the Duval County Public School District there will be no waivers of the state standards or high school end-of-course exams.

Cole reached out to the Florida Department of Education to ask if they’d reconsider waiving testing for students, but she is still waiting to hear back.

DCPS is asking parents to bring their students to campus between Feb. 22 and March 5 for progress-monitoring exams, which will also be a practice run for state exams.

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Anderson said practice isn’t good enough.

“To give the kids a fair chance, I think they need to waive it until they get better control over everything and move forward,” Anderson told Action News Jax.

Parents will need to reach out to their children’s schools for specific information about testing.