Uncertain Future For Standardized Testing In Florida

Jan 8, 2014

In what’s been dubbed her “State of Education Address,” Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart gave a Senate panel an update on her department’s plans for the new year Wednesday. Much of the meeting focused on the state’s search for a new standardized test.

Right now, Florida has no way to test its students. The state’s relationship with Common Core standards is in flux, but state officials have said they won’t accept accompanying tests called PARCC. Now, the state is in the market for a new student assessment. Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says she’s confident the state will choose one of five remaining testing options in the spring. But Miami Democratic Senator Dwight Bullard thinks the department is moving too fast.

“What exactly is the rush? Give me the doomsday scenario that happens if we were to put the brakes and say ‘let’s get it right’ and give this the necessary amount of time, or put suspensions on some of those components that are little alarming to folks,” Bullard asked Stewart Wednesday.

Bullard contends it’s unreasonable to expect teachers to prepare students for a test neither they nor their pupils know much about and that might not completely align with Florida’s new standards. He’d like to see the assessments field-tested in Florida before the state makes a decision. But Stewart argues that’s unnecessary because testing companies already test their products.

“If we select an assessment that has been appropriately vetted, is appropriately tested for reliability and validity, whether or not our students in Florida have practiced on that test, is not significant,” Stewart retorted.

Stewart promised a decision would be made by March and the public will be given ample opportunity to voice concerns at that time.