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Parkland shooting: Lawmakers say let school's students skip state tests


Students at the Parkland high school where a shooting last month killed 17 people should be able to skip Florida’s exams this year, the Legislature decided
Students at the Parkland high school where 17 people died in a mass shooting should not have to take state-mandated exams this semester, the Legislature decided, carving out from Florida’s testing rules an exemption for teenagers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The exemption is in a controversial education bill (HB 7055) that both the Florida House and Senate approved Monday. If the bill is signed into law by Sen. Rick Scott, students at the Broward County school could skip all state exams, including the Florida Standards Assessments, or FSA, and end-of-course exams in algebra, biology and U. S. history.
A spokesman for the Florida Department of Education said, to staff members’ knowledge, this would be the first time a public school was granted permission to avoid state tests, which are taken by students in third grade through high school.
Under the exemption, students at Stoneman Douglas could take the exams, if they wanted, but they would not be required to test. State testing began for some high school students last week and is to run through mid-May.
Stoneman Douglas’ seniors also could graduate with fewer hours of class time than usually required. Students at the school were out of class for two weeks after the Feb. 14 shooting.
And seniors who had not yet passed the two state exams needed for a diploma — the FSA 10th-grade language arts exam and the algebra 1 end-of-course exam — could earn graduate without those needed scores, the bill says.
The A-rated high school would keep that grade, issued in 2017, for 2018 since it might not have many test scores on which to calculate a new grade, the bill adds. Florida’s annual A-to-F school grades largely are determined by student scores.
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