Top FL Lawmakers to Tony Bennett: Drop National Common Core Tests

Published July 18, 2013

Florida’s legislative leaders want the state to withdraw from national Common Core tests, even though Florida is leading one of the two federally funded national Common Core testing groups. 

The two wrote to state Superintendent Tony Bennett July 17, explaining why they want the state to use its own tests to measure national Common Core K-12 goals in math and English. 

“Too many questions remain unanswered with PARCC [the Common Core testing group Florida leads] regarding implementation, administration, technology readiness, timeliness and utility of results, security infrastructure, data collection and undetermined cost,” wrote Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Panama City) and House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel). “We cannot jeopardize fifteen years of education accountability reform by relying on PARCC to define a fundamental component of our accountability system.”

National Common Core tests will replace state tests in more than 40 states in 2014-2015.

Time and Money
Weatherford and Gaetz believe Florida schools simply do not have the technical capacity to handle all-online PARCC tests. First, PARCC recommends one computer for every two students in schools, while Florida’s average is three students per computing device. And approximately 50 percent of Florida schools have the bandwidth necessary to administer PARCC tests. 

“To date, the cost of the full implementation of PARCC assessment materials is indeterminate, let alone the costs for the technology and professional development,” they write. 

PARCC tests will be costly in another way: The testing group projects they will consume at least 20 days of Florida’s 180-day school year, they note, which is more than current tests. 

Another item left unanswered by the national testing group, the lawmakers say, is its student privacy and data security policies. Those are not set for release until 2014.

While teachers and schools have been promised test results that finally come back to them in time for them to respond before students leavet their classrooms, “PARCC does not have a plan for the timely return of assessment data” to make good on that promise, Gaetz and Weatherford say. 

Based on these concerns, “It would be unacceptable to participate in national efforts that may take us backward and erode confidence in our accountability system and our trajectory of continued success,” the lawmakers write. In conclusion, they ask Bennett to state his positions on “immediately withdrawing” Florida from PARCC, phasing in new, Florida-based tests, providingteachers more training, further integrating technology into schools, and reporting the costs associated with these policy changes.

Image by Maine Department of Education