Lee says rival testing bill 'does nothing'

A bipartisan group of senators who back legislation to reduce standardized testing in public schools sent mixed signals Wednesday about their willingness to compromise with other lawmakers about a less-ambitious proposal.

During a news conference held to promote the more far-reaching bill (SB 964), one of the measure's co-sponsors slammed a different piece of legislation --- the "Fewer, Better Tests" proposal (SB 926) --- that would not explicitly eliminate any tests.

"That bill has great talking points, but if you read it, it does nothing," said Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa. "And it's very, very important that we have legislation that matches our talking points, and that when we go home and we say we did something to effect change, that we actually did that."

The bill supported by Lee would, among other things, get rid of the requirement for end-of-course tests in geometry, Algebra II, U.S. history and civics.

But another supporter of the bill, Senate Pre-K-12 Education Appropriations Chairman David Simmons, said there were still worthwhile provisions in the "Fewer, Better Tests" bill, which is backed by accountability advocates.

"If we assured that testing alone occurred in the last three weeks, we'd still be doing a whole lot," said Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs. "We really would. I don't think it's enough. But I believe that that's a whole lot."