Local senator questions algebra test fairness

Sen. Travis Hutson of Elkton sends letter to top education officials


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – While praising a recent legislative decision to eliminate an end-of-course exam for students taking Algebra II, a Northeast Florida senator is raising questions about whether the change is being applied fairly.

Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Elkton, sent a letter Thursday to top state education officials that focused on students who took the exam during the past school year.

In part, the letter pointed to other students who had planned to take an end-of-course makeup exam this month but, he said, will no longer be required to do so.

The end-of-course exam was eliminated as part of a massive education bill (HB 7069) approved by lawmakers this spring.

“Specifically, since the enacting of HB 7069 on July 1, students who took Algebra II last year are graded differently depending on whether they took the end-of-course exam or not,” Hutson wrote to Education Commissioner Pam Stewart and State Board of Education Chairwoman Marva Johnson. “While the exam counted as 30 percent of the final grades for those who took it, those who were intending to take the makeup test this month can no longer do so and their grades will be calculated without the exam. This creates a scenario where some students who took the exam would see their grades improve if their grades were calculated the same way as students who did not take the exam.”

Hutson, who said he was contacted by parents and teachers in his district, also raised other concerns about fairness.

“The problems with the Algebra II end-of-course exam are well documented and the reasons for its elimination are well founded,” Hutson wrote. “However, there is a current cohort of students who took the exam and had their grades negatively affected by a flawed test that their peers who will take Algebra II next year will not have to worry about. While it is too late to help those who are starting college this year, there is still time to right this wrong for the rising sophomores, juniors and seniors who have had the Algebra II exam hurt their GPAs.”