Scott’s Executive Order Pulls Florida Back from Common Core Testing

Common Core adoption took another hit this week after Florida Governor Rick Scott issued an executive order barring the state from acting as a money manager for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a group charged with designing tests based on the standards to replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment exams currently given to 2 million Florida students. Prior to the executive order, Florida planned to adopt the multi-state exams in math, reading in writing in place of FCAT.

Leslie Postal and Kathleen Haughney of the Orlando Sentinel speculate that Scott’s order was a move to placate conservative opponents to the Common Core Standards adoption. Since their publication last year, 45 states have committed to adopting the Common Core, with Florida starting its rollout in public schools this year.

Although the order didn’t bar the adoption of PARCC tests outright, the opposition to Common Core in the Legislature is so strong that this is expected to be the practical outcome. In the period right after their release, the Common Core – designed by a group of education experts and academic leaders from multiple states – proved popular, they’ve since come under fire, especially from conservative activists who claim that they represent a federal government intrusion on the states’ power over their own education systems.

The standards, however, were devised by state leaders, not the federal government – with encouragement and support from the Obama administration.

Common Core advocates say the standards will be better and tougher than Florida’s current ones, and will require students to learn topics with more depth and better prepare them for college and decent-paying jobs after high school. They have been championed by former Gov. Jeb Bush and his education foundations.

Once the new standards are fully in place in the 2014-15 school year, the state will need a new batch of tests to judge student mastery.

Scott notified US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan of his decision this week, saying that the state will not only open up a competitive bidding process for a new assessment design, but will also begin a series of public hearings on the the state’s education benchmarks.

According to Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News, Republican lawmakers backed Scott’s decision, calling it the right move for Florida’s schools.

Republican state legislators pledged their support for Scott’s decision and weighed in on the decision to put the brakes on PARCC.

“For Florida’s future generations to succeed, we have to make sure we’re doing the right things for our teachers,” said Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton. “I support the direction the governor is taking. The governor deserves a lot of credit for making education a top priority and by charting our own path, Florida educators and students will benefit.”

Other Republican lawmakers seemed to agree that the governor had made the right move by pulling out of PARCC. Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, gave Scott high praise for his decision.