Lee County’s school board became the first in the state Wednesday night to decide district students would no longer take statewide exams, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.
What happens next in uncertain.
State law requires school districts to participate in the statewide testing program. Those scores are used to determine grades for public schools, student promotions, high school graduation and teacher evaluation scores. Federal rules also require annual testing.
Lee County superintendent Nancy Morgan said she was concerned about the decision. The district’s attorney said school board members could be removed from office. From the News-Press story:
While the news was met with jubilation, Superintendent Nancy Graham said she was deeply concerned about the board’s decision.
“This will hurt children. There is no way around it,” Graham said while the audience booed. “I am gravely concerned about the decision that was made tonight, and I’ll try to make sense of this. It’s an interesting time to serve as the leader of this district.”
The meeting adjourned without discussion regarding what test – if any – will now be used in place of the state tests. The board members did not address if the decision will include charter schools.
Keith Martin, the board’s attorney, was not sure that there were any “immediate, clear” consequences to the action. He said it was possible the Governor could remove the school board members from their positions of power.
Much of school operational funding goes through the state, and it is unclear if the Florida Department of Education or lawmakers can or will withhold school district funding.
It’s also unclear how many districts will follow suit in the state which pioneered the use of determining school performance based on statewide test results.