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Politics

Senate Green Lights Competency-Based Education Program

March 10, 2016 - 6:45pm

The Florida Senate passed a bill to create a new Competency-Based Learning Program, sending the legislation out of the Senate floor and to Gov. Rick Scott’s office by a vote of 31-6. 

The bill, HB 1365, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, would create a competency-based education program for several of Florida’s school districts. The program’s purpose would help students who have already mastered concepts and skills to higher levels of learning. 

That means when a student has “mastered” one skill, they move onto the next. 

Lake, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Seminole Counties would all be eligible to participate in the program, as well as a laboratory school run by the University of Florida. 

The program would beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, and would be administered by the Florida Department of Education to be administered for a period of 5 years.

Supporters of the legislation said it was a good program for students who 

"Every child has unique talents and abilities. But rather than tailoring education to meet both the strengths and weaknesses of individual students, we force them to conform to a system in which they all are expected to master the same subjects in the same way and in the same amount of time,” said executive director for the Foundation for Florida’s Future Patricia Levesque.

"Competency-based learning addresses this flaw by allowing students to progress at a personalized pace,” she continued. “Once they have demonstrated knowledge of the material, they move on to the next level. This customized approach reduces boredom, frustration and failure."

But others disagree, raising concerns of data mining as a result of the legislation. These groups said the legislation would be harmful to Florida’s students since districts would be collecting lots of data. 

“How much information are they getting on that student?” asked Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla. “I think we have to be careful, keep a close eye on this program. I’m certain it’s going to pass and be implemented, but we need to be observant.”

Others said they were worried about students spending too much time working by themselves on computers to take the tests. 

The bill now heads to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk for signing. 

 

 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen

 

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