Gov. Rick Scott of Florida used an executive order on Monday to scale down the state’s roll in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a multistate, test-making consortium linked to Common Core. PARCC is creating Core-aligned assessment tests that would have replaced the English and math sections of state’s current test, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
Florida will end its status as a PARCC “fiscal agent” by the end of the year, and could scuttle the PARCC test altogether. The action is a small victory for critics of Common Core, a set of K-12 education standards that 45 states have adopted. Indiana, Georgia, and Pennsylvania have also withdrawn from PARCC. Advocates of the consortium say the states need identical tests in order to compare state-by-state student scores.
Common Core is an effort to revamp U.S. education standards and improve reading, writing, and arithmetic in public schools. Although Common Core began as a privately led initiative, the Obama administration tied school funding to statewide adoption of the standards, leading many conservatives to recoil at what seemed to be a federal intrusion into state education. Some criticize the standards themselves, saying they teach unfamiliar math techniques and will require fewer classic literature reading assignments. WORLD has written about grassroots opposition to Common Core in its Oct. 5 issue.
“Floridians will not accept federal government intrusion into the academic standards that are taught to our students in our classrooms,” Scott’s order said. The Republican governor asked the state’s Board of Education to establish a “competitive solicitation” process to procure a new assessment test. That still leaves the door open to using PARCC’s test in the future, as the state will review several test possibilities before adopting one, and PARCC could be a candidate.
Florida has already begun phasing in the Core standards, and will need a new assessment test aligned with the standards by the 2014-15 school year, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Scott will face a reelection campaign in 2014, and his move could be seen as a hat tip to anti-Core conservatives. It stops short of reversing the Common Core standards themselves. Florida’s former governor, Jeb Bush, also a Republican, is a strong advocate of Common Core.
Core critics have also worried about state databases that would store student information. Scott ordered the state’s commissioner of Education to make recommendations for rules to protect student privacy by the end of the year.