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Florida Education System Faces Huge Overhaul

As the school year in Florida is winding down, policymakers are gearing up with several major changes planned for the Sunshine State’s public education system.

Everything from standards for receiving college credit through AP classes to the way some standardized tests are administered is up for grabs, with teachers and students monitoring every move.

One of the proposed changes concerns the way high school students receive college credit in AP classes. Currently Florida students earn college credit by taking any of the dozens of Advanced Placement classes the state offers and scoring a 3 or higher on the course’s final exam. The exams are graded on a five-point scale.

State Senator Evelyn Lynn, R-Volusia County, has introduced a bill that would require a higher score in the final exam for the student to receive college credit. The change is significant because students who pass the course and the exam are not required to take regular freshman classes in the AP subject.

The bill originally sought to raise the minimum AP score for college credit in all subjects to a 4. It was later altered, however, allowing for Florida’s Department of Education to set specific minimum scores for each AP course.

A much broader issue that most agree will take significantly longer to sort out is the role that standardized testing plays in Florida’s classrooms. Placed squarely in the crosshairs of a national debate on testing because of its reputation for measuring student achievement through testing, Florida’s system is being attacked from those on both sides of the argument.

Proponents of the current model of testing claim that the most effective way of measuring student success is through the taking of tests. Reformers believe, however, that this leads teachers to “teach to the test,” rather than encouraging students to completely grasp a subject.

Considering the fast-approaching 2014 deadline for No Child Left Behind’s mandate that all students test on grade level in reading and math, the eyes of educators across the country are sure to be fixed on Florida’s testing policies.

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