Okaloosa Schools Prep for Controlled Open Enrollment and Standardized Testing

Okaloosa County students will take a week off from classwork, starting on friday, March 15. Once back, standardized testing will begin.

Okaloosa County School Board Members received two important updates at their workshop meeting Monday morning concerning standardized testing and open enrollment. 

Spring Break starts for the students of the Okaloosa County School District on Friday – after students return, the testing season will begin for students. 

According to this data set from The Florida Department of Education, a little over 58% of Okaloosa County Students passed their FAST assessments last year in all grades. 

Writing testing will begin on April 1 and go through the 12th. After that, students will take their civics exams April 15-30. May will see students taking their reading, math, Advanced Placement, Career and Technical Education and International Baccalaureate tests. 

“There’s a lot that goes into the testing,” Superintendent Chambers said to the school board at their workshop meeting March 11, “and as you all know; it’s not just April through May. This was August and September – and December.” 

This past year, the Florida Department of Education, under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, changed the methodology of testing for students to focus more on intermittent progress throughout the year. 

Open Enrollment Update

Administration official and former Fort Walton Beach High School Principal John Spolski updated Okaloosa County Schools on the Controlled Open Enrollment (COE) status.

COE allows parents to apply to have their children educated at a public school other than the one they are zoned for. Students from different school zones or even other school districts in Florida can apply to and be accepted at schools in Okaloosa County, provided the school has space to take them. 

Students who are dependents of active duty military personnel with orders to move, relocated because of foster care placement in a different school zone, experience a change in court-ordered custody, or reside in the district get preferential treatment in the process. 

COE in Okaloosa County began January 15 and then closed for a brief period. Since then, it has reopened, and students can attempt to enroll in a school other than the one they’re zoned for at the moment. Students and parents have until ten school days into the 24-25 school year to apply for COE. 

As of the morning of March 11 – Ruckel Middle School, Edge, Plew, and Bluewater are at capacity and will only take students with COE. 

Niceville High School has 33 slots open to students who wish to apply. The Lewis School has the most openings in our area, with 81 spots available.

There are also 35 spots open at Eglin Elementary on the Air Force Base for those who wish to apply there. 

However, Spolski noted that not all grades at each school have availability for students. Florida law caps each grade at a certain number, meaning each school may have different slots available. Some may have no slots available at all for specific grade levels. 

The school district’s online portal for COE updates automatically, which means if a student at the front of the line declines a spot at a particular school, the place opens. 

“That is a challenge,” Superintendent Chambers told the school board, “but where we can work with the families to the extent possible, that’s something we do, but that was a change in legislation.”

To see the whole Florida Law on this subject, click here. 

So far, Okaloosa County Schools have had 195 students accept COE seats at various schools throughout the county. On the first day of the late application process, at the beginning of 2024, 27 applications arrived at the school district to use COE. 

The School District is required to update the number of spaces available every 12 weeks. 

 

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