As planned, Florida has advertised for companies that would like to provide the state's next generation of standardized tests, putting out an "intent to negotiate document" late last month. The new exams are to replace most of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in 2015.
The new tests have been in the works for several years, with Florida planning to replace FCAT with so-called PARCC exams. But PARCC became controversial this year, in part because its exams are to be aligned with Common Core academic standards (which have become controversial) and in part because early proposals showed the tests would take more time, cost more money and require more technology than FCAT
So at Scott's request, the Florida Department of Education has put out a proposal, seeking requests from all interested test-making parties. PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) is expected to still make a play for Florida's test business but is certainly no longer a shoo-in.
Other players, officials say, could be the makers of the SAT and ACT, other testing companies and other states that already have their own Common Core tests.
The document released Oct. 25 says Florida wants the new tests to include language arts exams for students in grade 3 to 11, math exams for grades 3 to 8 plus end-of-course exams for high school algebra, geometry and algebra 2 exams.
These would replace the current batch of FCAT reading, writing and math exams as well as the state's end-of-course algebra and geometry tests.
Florida wants the new tests -- likely to be given to nearly 2 million students -- to have both computer-based and paper-and-pencil versions.
It also wants the tests to cost about the same as FCAT, take no more time than FCAT but provide some "comparability to other states."
Test makers, if they want Florida's business, must submit their proposals by Dec. 16. Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has said she plans for the state to select FCAT's replacement in March.
The new tests are to be aligned to Common Core (standards in langauge arts and math that Florida adopted in 2010).
But the document notes that "as of the release of this ITN, these standards were scheduled to be reviewed further by Florida’s stakeholders. The degree to which the standards, and by extension the assessments, will be adjusted is to be determined."
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