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:”