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New Tests Replacing FCAT Could Cost Florida More

A cost estimate shows the standardized tests that could eventually replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Exam, or FCAT, may be cheaper than the existing exams, but the new tests may not save the state money.

It costs the state about $29.50 per student to purchase PARCC exams in three subject areas combined-- reading, writing, and math.  The state currently spends about a dollar more than that per student for the FCAT, but students take a varying number of tests, so the numbers are difficult to align. The state spends $13.37 for each FCAT and end-of-course exam, and students can take multiple tests in a given year.

The FCAT cost in Florida includes a computer and a paper-based option, while the PARCC exams are computer-only. Adding a paper option to PARCC could erase the forecast savings. And, even if Florida decides to adopt the PARCC exam, the state’s own end-of-course tests will still be in place.

Georgia officials recently decided to drop out of PARCC, citing cost as a factor, and Florida’s legislative leaders have expressed concern the state’s public schools don’t have the necessary infrastructure in place  to support the computer-based exams.

The PARCC exams are aligned with new learning goals for Florida students, called the Common Core. The standards are set to be fully in place by 2015.

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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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