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  1. Florida

How likely is it for Florida to move to a national test model?

Much has been made in recent days about comments Florida senators Don Gaetz and John Legg have made regarding the "Seminole Solution" to state testing -- that is, a switch from state to national exams for accountability.

Lawmakers look to ditch state exams, Politico Florida reported. Key lawmakers like idea of dumping state exams, the Orlando Sentinel added.

Advocates of testing reform celebrated such sensibility.

Legg cautioned against raising expectations too high. He said his Education Committee will have hearings to explore what it would take to turn this proposal into reality. But nothing is likely to happen soon.

"We are in year two of a three year contract. It is highly improbable for us to make any transition" while the agreement is in place, Legg, a Pasco County Republican, told the Gradebook. "We don't want our teachers to do three different assessments in three years."

Once that contract with AIR expires, Legg said, any testing firm can bid for the business. Whichever company gets the next deal will have to provide exams that adhere to Florida's standards. The 1981 Debra P. v Turlington case requires nothing less, Legg noted.

He acknowledged that the Florida standards essentially match the Common Core, with a few alterations -- regardless of the name change. If the state were to adopt a Common Core-aligned test, such as the SAT aims to become, though, Legg wondered how that would differ from Florida's participation in PARCC.

Florida dropped out of the national testing consortium it once led two years ago, with Gov. Rick Scott saying the state needed its own tests without federal overreach. Legg predicted a backlash from the Common Core critics that backed the departure.

Another issue could crop up, Legg continued, when parents see what a passing score might look like if the SAT were to become a state accountability exam. With the most recent FCAT cut scores, tenth graders could earn a combined math and language arts score around 800 to qualify for graduation.

That's well below what most colleges and universities accept. If the state is seeking a test that shows readiness for college, Legg said, the new score could be much higher.

"Those are the questions our committee will look at," he said. After all the details come out, he added, "I think you're going to start getting some push back."

As for the idea of changing the way the test scores are used -- many people have complained that they apply to school grades, teacher evaluations, student retention and more -- Legg expected little change.

"People are not asking that question," he said.

Stay tuned.

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