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Early results eyed in new testing system

A Senate panel on Tuesday reviewed some of the early results of a new “progress monitoring” system of student assessments in public schools.

Lawmakers last year passed a measure (SB 1048) that eliminated what was known as the Florida Standards Assessments and replaced them with the progress monitoring system.

The system requires students to take exams at the beginning, middle and end of the school year.

The first two tests are to be used for “informational purposes,” while final exams are used for state and federal accountability purposes.

The first round of tests was conducted between August and October. A second round is underway, with roughly 75 percent of students finished as of Tuesday.

Juan Copa, a deputy commissioner with the state Department of Education, presented data Tuesday to the Senate Education PreK-12 Committee that showed a jump in test scores between the first and second exams, something education officials said is by design.

For instance, about 33 percent of students in third through 10th grades performed on grade level in English-language arts exams during the first round of tests.

Students who have completed the second tests averaged 38 percent on grade-level.

In math, 14 percent of students in third through eighth grades posted scores that were considered on grade-level on the first tests.

In the second round, 31 percent of students scored on grade level.

The education department said a gradual increase in scores during the three-test cycle is expected.

“Each PM (progress-monitoring) event measures the full-year content expectations, therefore, as students are more exposed to the content and instruction is adjusted to meet student needs, progress should continue to be made and seen by the end of the year,” a presentation by the Department of Education said.