Florida’s plan to ditch old standardized tests draws criticism

FCAT Florida Watchdog

School Board Members from several counties in Florida think the new FCAT test is a bad idea for students, teachers and schools.

WATCHDOG.ORG / News Bulletin
Published: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 06:30 AM.

The Florida Legislature’s idea to ditch the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers standardized test and develop its own is flunking out among school personnel.

Starting next year, Florida — and not the PARCC coalition — will pick the new Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, the standardized test that has been used for about a decade, and will begin administering it to students in grades 3-11 by next spring, according to the Florida Department of Education.

The new tests will be aligned to the Common Core, a U.S. education initiative that details what K-12 students should know in English language, arts and mathematics at the end of each grade. It was adopted in Florida in 2010.

Gov. Rick Scott ordered the state to withdraw from the PARCC coalition, a group of states that developed standard test and classroom content to prepare students for colleges and careers. Florida lawmakers made that request because of unanswered questions about the coalition’s administration, timeliness and costs.

American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., won the contract to develop the new test and will receive $220 million over six years.

Many school staff working in the trenches aren’t enthusiastic about the change. Raquel Regalado, a member of the Miami-Dade County School Board, said in a letter published by the Miami Herald that the decision is typical of the Legislature’s ever-changing educational philosophy and that indecision and endless changes “frustrates teachers, students and parents.”

“In the last year alone, the State has made more than 36 changes in school standards, testing and grade configuration,” she wrote.

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