Issues of Interest

FLORIDA STANDARDS ASSESSMENT Considerable disagreements continue over standardized testing for Florida’s K-12 students.  As a response to ongoing questions, state lawmakers ordered an independent study to test the validity of the process and the test.  The findings, released this week, acknowledged the first year test included questions inaccurately reflecting the standards adopted by the State.  It concludes that the test results can be used for “group-level” decisions, such as teacher evaluations and A-F school grades.  However, individual student results should not be used as a factor for promotion or graduation eligibility.

The Florida Association of District School Superintendents, individual school districts, parent groups, and the educator’s union continue to object to the tests.  In a further response, Senator Don Gaetz (R-Destin), who is the chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and serves on other education committees, stated that he is interested in finding new testing options.  He is developing a proposal for the upcoming session which may include swapping the SAT or ACT national test for the FSA.

NEW DRIVER’S LICENSE TEST Florida implemented a new 50 question driver’s license test in January.  The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that the pass rate has been 41% since implementation.  The agency considers a 70% pass rate to be successful.  As a result of complaints, the Department is reviewing the test questions in order to make the new exam more fair.

RIDE SHARING The battle continues for ride sharing companies Uber and Lyft throughout Florida.  Broward and Palm Beach Counties have enacted ordinances bringing such services into the same category as taxicabs.  Broward’s restrictions led to Uber leaving the County.  Miami-Dade also is expected to have a regulatory proposal in November.  The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, which lost in court when a judge refused to enact an injunction against the services, continues to ticket ride-sharing drivers.  Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) will again sponsor legislation for statewide standards during the 2016 session.

BICYCLE PATHS The new Sun Trail program will receive a dedicated $25 million annually for the improvement and construction of bicycle paths.  Funding will be from vehicle registration fees.  It is hoped that some of the funds will be used for the Coast to Coast Connector in Central Florida.  The 250 mile path currently has gaps totaling 70 miles.

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