FSA testing during pandemic has some Palm Beach County parents concerned

Superintendent looks to extend distance learning past December
Posted at 6:57 PM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-13 18:57:34-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The School District of Palm Beach County ended its 2019-20 school year doing distance learning, which the district admits wasn't as efficient as it has been this school year.

Students who chose brick-and-mortar instruction have been back in the classroom for almost three months and some parents feel they're not ready for state standardized testing.

"If you have a child in the classroom, they're doing a little bit better," Allison Dankner said. "if you have a child online, teachers are super people, but you also can't say, 'I can connect to you in front of me and you online at the same rate.'"

Dankner is a behavior and learning specialist who founded an education company called Success for Your Child. She said parents are worried about more than Florida Standards Assessments.

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"Yes, it's about the test, but I'm getting calls from parents and emails from parents," Dankner said. "They're worried the kids aren't tuning in. They're worried the kids aren't handing in homework when they say they are."

Students are already taking end-of-course assessment tests this month and next. The district said those students who opted for distance learning are coming into the school buildings to be tested.

But school board member Erica Whitfield said many parents may not want their students coming back for testing.

"After I visited a school last week, I saw that there's a difficulty with FSA rights where it has to be done in person and it has to be done on paper, and so that, to me, is a concern that we need to be thinking, going to the state, how will we assess children if they don't come into the building?" Whitfield said during a recent school board meeting.

An executive order that allows school districts to continue distance learning expires Dec. 31. Palm Beach County Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy said extending that option past December remains a top priority.