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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

DOE's website debunks some of Gov. Scott's concerns about PARCC



In two letters released today, Gov. Rick Scott expresses deep reservations about "federal overreach" into Florida's education policy as the state transitions to the new Common Core State Standards.

To U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Scott writes that the federal government has maintained "unwarranted involvement in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) - the testing consortium associated with the Common Core. Because of that, Florida must consider alternative assessments, he writes.

To Gary Chartrand, chairman of the state Board of Education, Scott writes that he rejects overreach by the federal government into Florida's state standards and assessments. He outlines six steps to maintain high education standards and "remove the state from federal intrusion in education policy."

Interestingly, some of Scott's concerns have been debunked by Florida's Department of Education.

The department has a list of common myths about the Common Core that clearly state that standards weren't developed by the federal government. It also says that the "federal government does not have a hand in development of the aligned assessments pertaining to CCSS."

From the site:

"The Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governor’s Association (NGA) are two entities that are comprised of elected or appointed officials in the states. They are representative of the electoral process of each state and each member is representative of their respective state’s citizenry. 

• The CCSSO is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that provides a network for public officials to 

collaborate and communicate on education issues. 

• The NGA is a bipartisan organization of the nation’s governorsthat promotes state leadership, shares best practices and a collective voice on national policy. NGA meetings are filmed and posted online along with transcripts to ensure transparency from the organization."

Most participants in Scott's education summit said the state's transition to the Common Core was a foregone conclusion. Many of them were concerned about misinformation about the standards - specifically that they're a federal overreach - and said that the state's leadership needed to come out strongly for them.

This is not to say that there aren't concerns about the Common Core. Some opponents fear that the new standards will result in excessive testing of students - already an issue that many critics have with Florida's existing accountability system. Others believe the standards aren't as a good as what many states already have.

Bob Schaeffer of Fair Test, a frequent critic of standardized testing, said Scott's action didn't go far enough because "it fails to call for a re-evaluation of the pervasive misuse and overuse of standardized exams that is the core of Florida's assessment system."

He called today's announcement "largely a political decision that tries to balance both Tea Party and educator criticisms of the PARCC tests while still supporting Jeb Bush's embrace of the Common Core standards."

The U.S. Department of Education released a statement from Duncan. It follows:

“Florida has long been a leader in education reform and for the past 3 years has served as an exemplary fiscal agent for the PARCC consortia.  The Department supports Florida and Governor Scott’s commitment to implementing a set of high standards and high quality assessments that adequately measure student performance to better serve the needs of students, parents and teachers.”

[Last modified: Monday, September 23, 2013 7:00pm]


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