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Florida Legislators Want Out of PARCC Assessments
Senate President Don Gaetz and Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford have issued a joint letter to Tony Bennett, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Education, recommending withdrawal from the assessment program proposed by the national academic consortium Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Gaetz and Weatherford recommend a "Florida Plan" of assessments, more professional development for educators, and a practical plan for technology integration in education.
In the letter, Gaetz and Weatherford express numerous concerns about the proposed PARCC assessments, a set of standardized tests in K-12 English and math, which are scheduled to be implemented for the 2014-2015 school year.
According to the letter, they are concerned about the amount of instructional time the assessments will consume. According to the letter, the PARCC assessments will require approximately 20 days or more of testing, more than is currently required.
They also expressed concern about the lack of a plan for the timely return of assessment data, so schools and districts can use the information to customize teaching methods to student needs, identify students in need of remedial instruction, and evaluate teacher effectiveness.
They also said the're concerned about the technological requirements of the PARCC assessments, which specify a minimum 2-to-1 student-to-device ratio and 100 Kbps bandwidth. The current state average is a 3-to-1 student-to-device ratio, and, according to the letter, the state won't be able to meet the recommended minimum ratio by the 2014-2015 school year. If PARCC offers the option of pencil and paper testing, Gaetz and Weatherford are concerned that it will cause further delay of testing results.
And they said the're concerned about the cost of implementing PARCC assessments and the security of student assessment data.
"Too many questions remain unanswered with PARCC regarding implementation, administration, technology readiness, timeliness and utility of results, security infrastructure, data collection and undetermined cost," they wrote in the letter.
While Gaetz and Weatherford have not called for withdrawal from the Common Core State Standards, they recommend "a Florida Plan for valid, reliable and timely testing of student performance," which would include state-approved end-of-course exams; adoption of proven assessments from other states, modified to meet Florida's needs; and ACT and SAT tests.
Further information about Florida's plans for implementing PARCC assessments can be found on the Florida Department of Education's site.
Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.