The chairman of the Senate education committee has introduced a bill postponing the next generation of standardized tests until Florida schools prove they have technology and broadband capable of handling the computerized tests.
Sen. John Legg’s bill, S.B. 1630, would require school and district information technology systems “be load tested and independently verified as appropriate, adequate, efficient, and sustainable” to handle the new test.
Whether Florida meets the Fall 2014 deadline for new, tougher education standards — known as Common Core State Standards — is shaping up to be a significant subplot during this year’s budget debate. With the new standards come a new standardized test, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
But school districts say they’ll have to upgrade their technology for the computer-administered exam. The Florida Department of Education requested $441.8 million to upgrade school technology and Internet systems for the budget beginning July 1. Gov. Rick Scott requested $100 million, opting to request $480 million for an across-the-board $2,500 raise for teachers instead.
School officials told the State Board of Education last month that $100 million would not be enough to get schools ready. This is the last full state budget year before the Common Core standards are scheduled to take effect.
Legg’s bill would delay the new testing until schools are ready. The bill does not specify if school districts should continue to give the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test or another exam in the meantime. Legg recently said lawmakers might consider using scores on the ACT or SAT college aptitude exams as an alternative.
Education Commissioner Tony Bennett told the State Board of Education that Common Core standards and the new test should be introduced together. There are also doubts whether the PARCC assessment will be ready to administer in the Spring of 2015.
Read the bill below: