Kennedy stands up for PERT alternative

INVERNESS — School board member Thomas Kennedy took a stand on a recent Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) proposal during the Citrus County School Board meeting on Tuesday.

“I want to thank the Florida Association of School Board Superintendents for coming out publicly against the proposal to do away with the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test, or PERT,” Kennedy said.

To graduate high school, students must pass Algebra 1 and the state-required end-of-course exam (EOC). PERT serves as an alternative assessment for students who pass the class, but not the EOC.

The other assessment required for graduation is a score of 3 or higher on the Grade 10 Florida State Assessment (FSA) English Language Arts test.

The Florida Department of Education recently proposed removing PERT as an alternative to the Algebra 1 EOC. The FLDOE recommends replacing the PERT with the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which is only offered once during the school year.

“The department is claiming that PERT has only a middle school expectation, yet PERT is used as an entrance exam for Florida colleges,” he continued.

According to Kennedy, 79 students who did not pass the Algebra 1 EOC exam during the school year came back this summer to take the PERT exam. 70 percent passed, allowing them to proceed to post-secondary education.

“It’s what’s right for kids,” he said. “I will be sending my support to the Florida Board of Education telling them I hope they do not do away with options, because we need more of them.”

In other business Tuesday:

* The board voted 4-0 in favor of renewing a contract with Achievement Rehabilitation Through Therapeutic Intervention for physical, occupational and speech/language therapies. Board member Doug Dodd abstained from voting, as he saw a potential conflict of interest because his wife, Laura Dodd, is a contractual part-time employee with the organization.

* Superintendent of Schools Sandra “Sam” Himmel wanted to clarify a statement she made two weeks ago by saying there is not an employment freeze. Every year, the board waits for an updated enrollment list on Skyward (software that manages students districtwide) in order to establish the necessary number of teachers.

“We had 25 open positions. Out of those 25 we have 10 or 15 processing. We are in a lot better position this year than last year at this time,” Himmel said. “We are hiring and interviewing teachers right now. We do not have a freeze.”

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