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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Testing firm bills itself as 'right for Florida'



With negotiations to become Florida's test provider getting under way, ACT Aspire has taken the unusual step of launching a website to explain its benefits to Floridians.

ACT Aspire is one of five companies hoping win the state's lucrative contract for new standards-based assessments, along with Pearson, CTB/McGraw-Hill, the American Institutes for Research, and Pennsylvania-based McCann Associates. The state began looking for alternatives to the PARCC consortium in the fall, after key lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott called for a Florida plan for testing after the FCAT goes away.

PARCC did not bid, but could be selected if the other bidders don't meet the state's specifications.

Bidders aren't supposed to communicate with the Department of Education reviewers, who aim to keep the process above board to avoid protests in an already tight time frame. But that doesn't mean they can't reach out to constituents, who already have been vocal and somewhat influential about the state's accountability, testing and standards during this time of transition.

"A lot of people have heard a lot of things," ACT Aspire Florida spokeswoman Dianne Bean told the Gradebook. "We felt this would be an opportunity ... to provide information to anybody that is interested in knowing more about what a state assessment is about."

With the new website, called "Right for Florida," ACT Aspire seeks to highlight itself as the only field-tested summative assessment. Alabama adopted the tests in 2013.

"We have the best assessments, the most capabilities, at an extremely affordable price," ACT Aspire CEO Kevin Howell said in a release. "This website will prove to Floridians that we are the right choice for the next generation Florida assessment."

Education commissioner Pam Stewart is expected to recommend Florida's next testing platform in March.

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 2:49pm]


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