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Legislative Leaders Want Florida Out Of New Tests Aimed At Replacing FCAT

Florida legislative leaders want the state to pull out of testing tied to new learning goals for students called the Common Core. House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz say they have concerns about the new tests, which are still in development.

Gaetz says one of the big problems with the new tests, called PARCC, is that they don’t exist yet. That’s why he and House Speaker Will Weatherford are worried about data security and accuracy along with how much the new tests will cost Florida, both in the time they take students to complete and how much the state would have to spend to put the necessary technology in place to administer the computer-based exams:

"What we don’t know is the timeliness of PARCC results in terms of their use in evaluating teachers. What we don’t know is all of the technology requirements. But what we do know about the technology requirements, thus far, is that there is no school district in the state of Florida that has the technological foundation that PARCC says is necessary to even do the tests."

The new tests, like Florida's current state exams, would be used to evaluate teachers and determine their pay.

The Florida department of education had requested more than $400 million from the legislature to shore up schools' internet capacity and purchase more computers and tablets, but the funding it received from the Florida legislaturefell far short of that. The New PARCC exams would be administered online, but in his letter, Gaetz says most of Florida's school districts don't have the technology needed in place.

Gaetz says he’d like to see Florida adopt its own system that could rely on measures like the ACT and SAT, and end-of-course exams in elementary, middle and high schools.

In a written statement, Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett thanked Gaetz and Weatherford for their concerns and says he’ll consider their position. 

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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