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Florida Chooses AIR for New Statewide Exam

Florida Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart announced today that the American Institutes for Research (AIR)  will produce Florida’s next statewide exam. The new, as-yet-unnamed test will replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The state is in the process of implementing the Florida Standards, new math, language arts and literacy standards largely based on the Common Core State Standards. 

According to a release from the Florida Department of Education , the new standards were arrived at after public meetings that elicited comments from "thousands of Floridians." The Florida Standards "stress a broader approach for student learning, including an increased emphasis on analytical thinking. With the new and more rigorous standards, a new assessment was needed to measure student progress."

In a letter to parents, Stewart wrote, “The new assessment will include more than just multiple choice or simple fill-in-the-blank questions. Students will be asked to create graphs, interact with test content and write and respond in different ways than on traditional tests.” Students will be able to take a version of the test online or with a pencil and paper next year. Gradually, the state will move towards all online exams.

According to an article from StateImpact Florida, the contract with AIR will be for $220 million over six years, according to documents the agency posted online. The suite of tests will cost $34.23 per student per year. The FCAT currently costs $36.17 per student per year.

Florida is a former member of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of two multistate groups developing exams with a federal grant. But the exams' use of federal money worried conservative activists in Florida, and legislative leaders said PARCC would cost too much and require too much testing time.

About the Author

Christopher Piehler is the former editor-in-chief of THE Journal.