Florida shouldn’t have one group of students taking the next generation standardized test online while other students use pencil and paper versions, according to the chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
Sen. John Legg, R-Port Richey, said students should all be taking the same kind of test.
“I have some great reservations about having two types of tests,” Legg said. “We need to phase out the paper and pencil and we need to phase in the digital. I’m in the camp of we need to do all digital and we need to do it all at once.”
Florida is scheduled to (mostly) phase out the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in the spring of 2015. The new test will be tied to new standards fully adopted by Florida and 44 other states and are designed to be more interactive, have fewer multiple choice questions and have students perform the same task many ways to ensure they understand the concept.
A pencil and paper option is one of six “non-negotiable” features Education Commissioner Tony Bennett said must be included in whatever test the state chooses to replace FCAT.
School officials and state leaders are concerned that schools might not have the Internet bandwidth and computers to handle online exams by the spring 2015 deadline. Lawmakers added language to a law which would delay the new test until schools they prove they have the capacity to administer the test.
Legg, an administrator at a Pasco County charter school, said he could accept if some schools used a paper and pencil test for a year. But he said lawmakers must get serious about paying for the technology upgrades needed for the new test and standards.
“I think we’re far off,” he said. “It’s going to be expensive and it’s going to take a priority commitment from the legislature and the governor.”
The Florida Board of Education meets in Tampa next week.