Gov. Rick Scott pulls Florida from academic test partnership

Local superintendents weigh in on latest change in academic testing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There has been a major change of direction for the state of Florida and Gov. Rick Scott when it comes to how schools assess students compared to those in other states.

Florida is moving to what is known as Common Core academic standards, which have been adopted by 45 states.  Assessment of students meeting the standards will require a new test, starting with the 2014-2015 school year.

But Scott has now ordered the state to withdraw from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.  While that test is not totally out of the equation, the state will begin the solicitation process to find a test to see if students are meeting those standards.

Local school superintendents were mixed about the decision to withdraw from the partnership, but the leaders of both Duval and St. Johns County schools believe that some sort of national assessment test is necessary so that Florida students know where they stand compared to those in other states.

"We're one of the only industrialized countries to not have national standards and national assessments," said Dr. Nikolai Vitti superintendent of Duval County public schools.

"The assessments simply weren't developed. It's difficult for a superintendent or anyone else to have an opinion on the test when we haven't seen it," said Dr. Joe Joyner superintendent of St. Johns County schools.

Joyner agrees with the Governor's decision, but want's to see a new assessment in place quickly so that students can be prepared by the 2014-2015 school year when the test is supposed to begin being used.

Vitti doesn't think that's enough time.

"The reality is that anytime you using a new battery of tests, you need to field test," said Vitti. "How can you field test questions that haven't been used by our kids because we haven't been using those common core standards and tested them."

Vitti said that right now, it's difficult to compare data from year to year because of how many changes there have been. He said the state needs to pick a test, preferably one used by many other states, and stick with it, so that schools can better prepare kids for the future.

"We need accountability. We need to measure what our kids know and don't know," said Vitti. "That way we can provide the right support system and intervention."

"Our kids are competing against kids not only in the same classroom or St. Johns, but against kids in Mobile, New York, and L.A., but also against kids in India and China," said Joyner.

The state hopes to have a recommendation for a new assessment in place by March so that it can be put in place for the 2014-2015 school year.