News, Curriculum

Florida Trades FSA for FAST- What it Means

What is the FSA?

The FSA is the common-core based, end of year, high stakes Florida Statewide Assessments. The assessments are intended to assess the students’ level of understanding of the Florida Standards in ELA and Mathematics and the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS) in order to provide important information to parents/guardians, teachers, policymakers, and the general public about how well students are learning. Results are then reported at the student, school, district, and state levels. Score reports provide performance levels in major categories and courses and the percentage of passing levels as well as the scale score ranges for each performance level by grade. For a detailed explanation of the FSA and how it is scored and reported, see Understanding Florida Statewide Assessment Reports.

What is FAST?

In September of 2021, Governor DeSantis announced a proposal that would end the FSA and replace it with the new Florida Assessment of Student Thinking (FAST) which aims to eradicate common core and move to a growth based, progress monitoring system. The goal behind FAST is to remove common core end of year standardized assessments and implement a progress monitoring system that facilitates individual growth and supports students in reaching their academic goals. In March of 2022, Desantis signed bill, SB 1048, to implement the new required FAST system in the 2022-23 school year.

Switching to the FAST progress monitoring system is intended to bring increased school accountability by providing the information needed to help parents and teachers support student growth. Florida will be the first state to switch from end of year assessments to this new system of monitoring which will include three much shorter tests administered in the fall, winter, and spring intended to provide feedback to students throughout the school year and give them the opportunity to demonstrate their growth on an individual basis. FAST proposes to reduce testing time by 75% and increase time for teaching and individual student achievement. FAST is aligned to the Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) standards. To see a clear breakdown of how FAST differs from FAST, see this infographic. 

The intentions behind FAST are to allow students the opportunity to take three shorter tests throughout the year which will take less time and provide them with feedback to help them grow and make personalized academic progress throughout the school year rather than waiting until the end of the school year to take a single test. The idea of progress monitoring is that interventions can be made sooner rather than after the school year is over. 

What does the Florida Education Association (FEA) think of FAST?

The Florida Education Association (FEA) is critical of the transition from FSA to FAST, claiming SB 1048 falls short of promises and that it will not reduce testing nor eliminate the big end of year test. There is also concern that since FAST will implement progress monitoring from Prekindergarten through tenth grade, that four year olds will now be required to take a computer based test. FEA argues that the high stakes nature of the FSA has not been removed but rather will now be required more frequently and will still affect student retention, graduation, grades, as well as teacher pay. FAST will require three ELA and three math assessments per school year in addition to statewide assessments for science in grades 5 and 8, and assessments for Algebra 1, Geometry, Biology, US History, and Civics. It is also still unclear as to what the assessments will look like and if they will in fact be shorter than current end of year FSA assessments. There is a lot of concern from FEA over the transition from FSA to FAST and what it will actually look like for students as there is still a great deal of uncertainty around the specific nature of FAST. 

How to prepare for FAST

It is clear that there is still uncertainty and mixed opinions about FAST and how its implementation will affect students and teachers in Florida. Much remains to be seen about the true nature of this progress monitoring system and how it will work in the classroom. While we cannot know yet how students will be affected, we can do our best to be prepared. What we do know is that FAST is aligned with Florida’s B.E.S.T. standards and that students need to be prepared with adequate standards-aligned instruction and individualized practice in order to achieve success. Educators, parents, and students can also seek resources from the Florida Department of Education’s FAST Portal to learn more about the FAST assessment process at each grade level. 

Progress Learning is committed to providing standards-aligned instruction in Florida. We have made it our priority to stay abreast of all updates to state-standards and have already begun to provide B.E.S.T. aligned materials to our Florida users. Progress Learning is a solution for Florida educators to provide quality standards-aligned instruction and support to their students so that they will be prepared for whatever the FAST has in store for them. With individualized study plans and skills practice, built-in accommodations, new tech-enhanced items, multiple question types, an extensive library of questions for each standard, and easily customizable assessments and assignments, Progress Learning provides a powerful resource to support Florida learners. 

Interested in learning more about how Progress Learning can support your transition to FAST? Request a Demo with us.

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