Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is now proposing the end of Florida Statewide Assessments. This past week, he announced lawmakers will work on a bill to switch from standardized testing to progress monitoring. If lawmakers pass the bill this next session, the 2021-2022 school year will be the last time students would have to take the FSA tests.
Palm Beach County school board member, Erica Whitfield, says many leaders in the district are hopeful and excited with the Governor’s plan.
"Right now there is just a lot of hope and excitement for what this change is going to bring," Whitfield told WPTV’s Tory Dunnan on To the Point.
Whitfield, who represents District 4, says the district already uses progress monitoring to assess students and give them immediate help. She says ending the tests will help the students do better in the classroom.
"The changes will probably look like a lot less pressure on those students for that test. Its very exciting as a mom myself, I know exactly what it's like when my daughter comes home and she is so nervous about going to school for that test," Whitfield said.
She added leaders are waiting for more details from lawmakers before making any plans.
The school board is also monitoring the court system as the ban against mask mandates in schools moves forward. A Florida judge recently issued a stay in the case, allowing the state Board of Education to impose any sanctions against districts that issue a mandate. The Palm Beach County School Board responded to a letter from the Board, arguing why it believes it has a right to issue the mandate.
"We will obviously comply with whatever the outcome is but we believe we have a constitutional authority to make decisions locally for our families and I believe our community really does stand behind us," Whitfield added when asked about the legal process.
Whitfield said she believes the mandate is helping control the spread of COVID-19 in the classroom but wants to give parents more updates on when the mandate might end.
“I really want to end this mask mandate as soon as we possibly can,” Whitfield said. “My plan is to put out word on when that mask mandate will end and what metrics we are looking at. We haven't quite gotten to that yet but that is something that I'm talking to staff about constantly and would like to have those conversations. Also we are asking a lot of local leaders and the medical field to weigh in and give those opinions."
As for the possibility of requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, Whitfield right now it would be up to the state but she is not in favor of mandating the vaccine.
"I don't like the idea of mandating anyone to make medical decisions. I think the masks are a very good protective measure but that doesn’t require anyone to make a decision for somebody in their medical decisions,” Whitfield said.
Whitfield said she is happy with the job Superintendent Mike Burke is doing on the interim basis and hopes to start the process of finding a permanent superintendent early next year.