Florida remains on the fence as other states recommit to PARCC
In the face of numerous stories about defections -- Georgia left last week, and Indiana announced its plan to quit on Monday -- leaders of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Governing Board held a press call Monday to stress that the testing consortium remains vital.
"We are on time and on task," said chairman Mitchell Chester, Massachusetts commissioner of education. "We are making substantial progress on all fronts."
He announced that 14 states and the District of Columbia have recommitted to full field testing of the Common Core-related exams in 2013-14, and to full implementation the following year. Florida was no longer on the list, which included Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee and D.C.
Many of those cheering PARCC were Florida education commissioner Tony Bennett's colleagues from Jeb Bush's Chiefs for Change, including commissioners from Tennessee, Rhode Island and New Mexico.
"This is going to be what I think could be called tests worth taking," Rhode Island's Deborah Gist said, also suggesting that PARCC offers cost effectiveness by having several states working together on testing.
Florida's top lawmakers have called on Bennett, once a top PARCC supporter, to abandon the consortium, saying the tests will take too much time and require a hefty investment in technology that Florida schools do not yet have. Bennett, who has been investigating alternatives for several weeks, has yet to weigh in.
"We continue to review assessment options including PARCC and will make the best decision for Florida students," Bennett spokesman Joe Follick told the Gradebook. "We appreciate the continued excitement and commitment of lawmakers and educators as we move toward implementing Common Core State Standards."
Follick said Bennett continues to confer with lawmakers, the governor and other state leaders as he makes sure "that the assessment selection is the right fit." He did not have a time frame for an announcement, except to say the commissioner seeks to act "as soon as practical so we can have a strong assessment in place."