Florida should stick with Common Core standards because they are a "choice for the better," a conservative think tank wrote in a letter to legislative leaders this week. And PARCC (an option for the Common Core tests that could replace FCAT) released more sample items this week, showing the types of questions students could be asked on new, more challenging math, reading and writing exams.
"Florida made a choice for the better when it adopted the Common Core. It should not turn back now, especially under pressure from a few loud opponents without a better plan," wrote the leaders of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a self-described conservative, education think tank.
Fordham has been influential in Florida education in the past, with its reviews on the state's academic standards often cited by state school leaders.
The letter was addressed to Rep. Marleen O'Toole, chairman of the Florida House's education committee, and sent to other legislative leaders as well.
In the leader, Fordham argued that Common Core -- benchmarks for what students should learn in language arts and math -- are better than current standards. They also said they do not promote any of the things critics worry about, such as federal intrusion in public education.
"Instead, it pushes schools, teachers and students to higher levels of achievement and deeper levels of skill-and-content knowledge than most have accomplished in the past," they wrote.
Common Core, adopted by 45 states, was approved in Florida in 2010 and is to be fully in place by the 2014-15 school year. The standards have become controversial this year, however, so the state opened them up for public comment (and got about 19,000 responses) and held three hearings on them as well.
The comments are to be discussed at the State Board of Education meeting Nov. 19.
PARCC (the Partnership for Assessment of College and Careers) is a group of states, including Florida, that has been working to develop standardized tests that would measure student progress under Common Core.
PARCC has lost favor with key state leaders but remains an option as the state figures out what test should replace FCAT in 2015.
This week, PARCC released more sample items for its planned exams. The exams aim to be "high quality" ones that go beyond multiple-choice and require students to write and figure out math problems.