Putting Education Reform To The Test

Bennett: PARCC Is Not The Only Exam Florida Will Consider

Florida Department of Education

Education Commissioner Tony Bennett said Florida could choose another test tied to Common Core standards -- despite managing the money for the group designing PARCC.

Update: The headline of this post has been changed for clarity.

Despite Florida handling the money for one of two new exams tied to new education standards, Education Commissioner Tony Bennett said the state is not committed to adopting the test.

Florida is one of 21 states and the District of Columbia which has joined forces to design the new test, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or PARCC.

States are scheduled to start using PARCC in the spring of 2015. The test is intended to measure how well students are meeting Common Core State Standards. The two consortia received $330 million in federal money to design the tests.

But experts are questioning support for the new exams after Alabama withdrew from the consortium and will use a test from ACT, better known for its college entrance exam. Bennett said Florida could make a similar choice.

“I believe that’s a discussion we should have had in 2009 and ’10,” Bennett said. “We should have had that discussion in every state in the country: ‘Here is what an exam must do for us.’

“While I believe there will be a PARCC exam I will also be honest and open enough to tell you that we will evaluate the PARCC exam as well as any other exam.”

States could find a number of reasons to choose another test, Bennett said.

The tests take up too much time.

The tests are too expensive.

States disagree with the passing scores set by the consortium.

“I do believe you may see different needs emerging from states that may end up leading us to an expansion beyond two consortia,” Bennett said. “I do believe that we’ll see a PARCC exam…I have been incredibly impressed with the progress of PARCC, especially of late. The leadership has become very aggressive.”

Florida will make its decision based on objectives laid out at a recent State Board of Education meeting. Those include being similar to the state’s current FCAT exam, long-term viability and the option for a paper and pencil version of what are expected to be computer-based tests.

Here’s the full list of “non-negotiables:”

Florida Department of Education

Florida's next standardized test must meet these requirements.


  • Bruce_William_Smith

    This article makes it sound like Florida’s State Board of Education doesn’t really want much of a change, which would be a pity, since data in the “STEM Florida” report shows that FCAT sets mathematics standards below the American national average, Florida achieves below the American national average on NAEP, and Americans trail far behind our east Asian competitors in mathematics and science on both TIMSS and PISA. The argument for continuing to do what Florida has been doing looks weak.

    • StateImpactJOC


      The State Board of Education has not said that they are rejecting the Common Core math standards. The only question is which test Florida will choose to check if students are meeting those standards.

      Florida has yet to commit to the Common Core-like science standards under development. And Florida students will continue to take the FCAT science exam, even after the switch to the new Common Core math and English language arts exams.

      • Bruce_William_Smith

        The Next Generation Science Standards appear to me more promising than either set of the Common Core. I can only hope that Florida will continue to appreciate the need to change and upgrade an education system long in need of improvement (and one that appears to have been, in fact, improving); and improving the assessment system should play a central role in that needed improvement.

  • Libertydockaren

    As with his estimate of what Common Core testing implementation will cost, the commissioner’s statements exude incompetence, still not having a set plan even after setting into motion these wrenching changes in Florida’s education system, and show how flawed this ridiculous emphasis on high stakes testing and invasive data gathering will be.

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