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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Common Core testing will take 8-10 hours over several days



As Florida and other states debate their readiness for the Common Core State Standards, the group designing the tests that would replace the FCAT has announced that its tests will last 8-10 hours and schools will need up to 20 days to administer them.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, this week released documents telling states about what they'll need to give the tests. The bottom line is that, as the new tests aim to measure students' preparation in new and more subtle ways than the current set of state assessments -- including the measuring of writing abilities at every grade level -- they'll require more time in addition to more computers.

The group's Frequently Asked Questions states that third graders will need about 8 hours to take the math and reading/language arts tests, while the amount rises to 9 hours for grades four and five, and around 9-1/2 hours for middle and high school students. School districts will have two windows of up to four weeks to give the two sets of tests, with PARCC suggesting states may reduce that number.

As for computers, here's PARCC's "rule of thumb" -- "At a minimum, schools with up to three grades tested should plan on having at least one computer device for every two students in its largest tested grade. A school that has six tested grades, such as a K-8 school, should plan on having one device per student in its largest tested grade. PARCC recommends that schools go a bit further if they are able."

Using the PARCC guidance, Florida officials are indicating that testing would increase by a net eight days.

Senate Education chairman John Legg, who recently introduced legislation to halt implementation of the PARCC tests until all schools have proper computer capabilities, issued a statement underscoring his commitment to adopting the new standards but taking time with the testing:

"It is essential that our testing mechanism be one that doesn’t create undue burden for our teachers but remains effective showing that Florida’s children are learning and will be competitive in the world market," Legg said. "I look forward in working with Commissioner Bennett to ensure we have an evaluation system that is workable for our schools, teachers, and students."

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[Last modified: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 8:52am]


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