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Common Core and FCAT Replacement Test Leads “Florida Standards” To $220-Million Contract With AIR

| March 17, 2014

No multiple choice in choosing a testing company, however. (biologycorner)

No multiple choice in choosing a testing company, however. (biologycorner)

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said Monday she has selected the non-profit group American Institutes for Research to design the state’s new tests for public schools, the final step in an effort to tamp down grassroots anger over learning standards.

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The $220 million contract with AIR will run for six years and will be cheaper than it would have been to go forward with a test developed by a multi-state consortium that Gov. Rick Scott ordered Stewart to back away from last year, according to the Department of Education.

“I feel very confident that it is the best choice for Florida students,” Stewart said in a conference call with reporters.

Scott’s decision last year to distance the state from the consortium — the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC — was part of an executive order meant to assuage largely conservative activists worried about the Common Core State Standards.

The Common Core standards, adopted by about four dozen states, were tweaked by the State Board of Education last month. Officials have begun referring to the revised version as the “Florida Standards.”

But AIR and another company that will work with it on the Florida tests, Data Recognition Corporation, have also helped to develop the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Like PARCC, that test is being put together by a multi-state consortium that hopes to use it to measure student learning under Common Core.

Stewart said the two systems would be separate.

“This is a platform and assessment for Florida,” she said.

Items used on the Florida tests will be field-tested in Utah, Stewart said, giving AIR the information it needs to make sure that the assessment system is working.

Florida students would begin taking the tests, which will cover language arts and math, following the 2014-15 school year. In addition to seeing how well students are doing, the tests will be used to determine school grades and help evaluate teachers.

Activists who have fought Common Core’s implementation in Florida quickly dismissed the move as far too little to address concerns about PARCC. Randy Osborne, who has lobbied against Common Core in the Legislature on behalf of the Florida Eagle Forum, said other decisions following Scott’s executive order have been like putting lipstick on a pig.

“This one, I think we forgot to get the lipstick out,” he said. ” … This is one of the worst testing consortiums you can pick, other than PARCC.”

Representatives of the anti-Common Core movement say they’ve been underwhelmed by what followed Scott’s executive order, issued in September. A series of public hearings across the state led to changes to the standards that Stewart said Monday were “significant” but have been rejected by critics.

The opposition springs largely but not exclusively from the concerns of conservative activists that Common Core would give the federal government more influence over what children learn in school. While the standards were spearheaded by a group of state officials, they have been promoted by the Obama administration.

“After all of this time, after the executive order, nothing has changed … other than the name,” said John Hallman, who lobbies for conservative groups like the Florida Campaign for Liberty and Liberty First Network.

–Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida

11 Responses for “Common Core and FCAT Replacement Test Leads “Florida Standards” To $220-Million Contract With AIR”

  1. Gary says:

    I don’t see why there needs to be any tests. FCAT a failure and any other test will be a failure. Let the teachers teach. I never took these tests in high school. In fact I never took a SAT for college. Seems to be a money making machine for somebody and headaches for teachers. I managed alright with B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with honors and A.S. Computer Programming (Software Engineering) with honors.

  2. PCer says:

    So how will we know how students are doing compared to other students in Nebraska, Washington, Hawaii, Alabama? What if the test is substandard as compared to the standardized tests that the other states with common core are now taking?

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is yet another example of a waste of time and money and for what? The ability to measure a student’s progress with the Common Core Standards, what a joke! How about going back and teaching the students the basics and moving forward from there? The Common Core is not acceptable. If the average person who has not had the opportunity to look at the Common Core, actually took a minute to look at lessons from these standards, most would walk away shaking their heads.

  4. Citizen says:

    Florida Standards will be field tested in Utah where those students don’t learn Florida Standards and are not in Florida classrooms? And those students’ scores will be comparable to what Florida students will likely score? Ummm, yeah, makes perfect sense. *eye roll*

  5. Obama 2014 says:

    $220-Million because a few people don’t like they don’t like Common Core ? I thought Obama was the one wasting our tax dollars.

    • Anonymous says:

      As a teacher, I would much rather see the $220 Million spent on teaching materials and technology to implement the Common Core.

  6. Anonymous says:

    If you look into the details of Common Core, you would be disgusted. I would nor allow my kids in schools that use Common Core. A home with both parents could teach their kins more on their own with the aid of on-line references. Go back to the basics of Math, Grammar, Spelling, Science, Geography and Civics…since so many voters don’t even know basic Civics and how our country runs. Let kids develop fine motor skills of cursive, rather than putting a key pad in front of them, or letting then exclusively printing! But how much money is spent by the gov’t on VPK to prepare a child for kindergarten and then drop the ball on theses kids by fourth or fifth grade??? We prepared our children for school…part of parenting. I don’t believe we need the gov’t to pay for somebody to teach then their letters and numbers. And you wonder why we spend so much money on education and are way behind other countries???? If you can’t do the basics of a certain grade…you do not proceed to the next grade. If you cannot read, you do not get promoted to the next grade. That’s how it was when I went to school. Some stayed back on occasion, but lived through it and learned what they had to do to move to the next level…motivation…rather than the wussification of America! I do understand some individual exceptions due to some learning disabilities, but for the average child, this is just not acceptable and is really cheating our kids and compromising their futures, as well as that of our country. Kids out of school at 1:45 is also not acceptable!

    • Obama 2014 says:

      You don’t know the details of Common Core and most of the people that have issues with it don’t understand it at all.

      Common Core is not a curriculum at all, rather it’s a set of basic standards each graduating senior needs to have mastered by graduation. It’s not something that was mandated by President Obama. It was commissioned by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Doesn’t sound very federal to me.

      I know Obama likes this initiative and is pushing it but he also likes golf. That doesn’t make golf bad. We have to drop this notion that just because Obama supports something it must be sinister. He’s been killing terrorists, including bin Laden. There are times when the man actually gets things right.

      Common Core appears to be what the name implies; a common core of knowledge that the states can agree on to prepare students for college, if the student so chooses, or for a career after high school. How the schools impart that knowledge is largely left to them. And the curriculum and materials are left exclusively to them.

      Borrowed from The Phil Valentine Show
      American conservative talk radio show host in Nashville, Tennessee

  7. w.ryan says:

    Merit pay alone may not be sufficient for our teachers to be incentivized to teach. Pay them some of this money thru a raise. Some great minds are not being recruited to teach. Spend money to bring on a new dawn so that students learn. I’ve seen some examples of how students write. As for science and STEM, having professionals in the field of science and math teach and motivate our youth to refresh young minds to pursue STEM. Arts can create interest in literature. This new standard testing is another waste of money. 220 million can lead to a change in this Florida system. At this point throwing money at a problem of standards nationwide is fruitless.

  8. Ashley says:

    There is a distinct reason why I moved away from the idea of majoring in Education while in college just a couple years ago. For a fairly menial paycheck (considering the out of school hours put in), it’s not worth the stress of all of the unnecessary roadblocks and lack of respect for the profession as a whole. It saddens me because teaching was a lifelong dream, but I can’t justify any attractive reason for doing it in Florida. Hoping it changes and my future children have the same educational experience I did growing up – NO MORE TEACHING TO A TEST!

  9. Bobbi says:

    I have a couple of advanced degrees and I’m disturbed by the idiocity of the Math my grand-daughter is exposed to

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