Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) directed his state’s Education Board on Monday to pull out of the consortium of states that is developing the new online tests that will be aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
According to Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post, Scott sent a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan informing him that Florida was ending its association with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of the two consortia preparing the new Common Core standardized tests. The consortia have been supported in their test development endeavor by about $350 million from the federal government.
Florida was a leading state in the PARCC consortium and had been acting as its “fiscal agent.’
In the assertive letter to Duncan, Scott accused him of meddling in state education affairs:
Unfortunately, PARCC has become a primary entry point for the involvement of the federal government into many of these state and local decisions. The federal government, however, has no constitutional authority to involve itself in the state-level decisions on academic standards and assessments or the curriculum and instruction decisions of our local school boards.
As a result, I intend to ask that the State Board of Education direct the Commissioner of Education to end Florida’s fiscal agent relationship with PARCC and to issue a competitive solicitation to select Florida’s next state assessment…as the federal government continues to maintain its unwarranted involvement in PARCC, it is important that we examine other alternatives to select an assessment that best meets the needs of Florida students, parents and teachers, not the needs of the federal government or other states.
Scott also sent a letter to Gary Chartrand, chairman of Florida’s Board of Education, providing a six-point plan for ensuring the state’s high education standards. The governor recommended a series of public hearings with an opportunity for testimony regarding possible changes to the Common Core standards which Florida adopted in 2010.
Prior to Scott’s decision, several high-level Republican lawmakers had expressed opposition to the Common Core standards testing.
In a column in the Sunshine State News, state Rep. Debbie Mayfield (R) wrote that the “luster” of Common Core has faded “upon closer scrutiny.”
Any state that adopts this national standard willingly cedes a portion of its educational authority; shifting authority and control from the state to this national scheme. And what does the state get in return?
Common Core proponents argue the benefit is increased educational standards and the expectation of improved student achievement. When I looked into this claim I found it lacking. In fact, after thoroughly analyzing the standards contained in Common Core it is clear to me that Florida gives up much more than it gains by adopting these national standards.
Regarding the finding of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a supporter of the Common Core, that Florida’s mathematics standards are better and more meaningfully organized than those in Common Core, Mayfield wrote:
Because Florida’s Sunshine State Standards for education already nearly meet or exceed those proposed in Common Core I see no benefit to inviting more Washington involvement in the education of our kids. Given Washington’s track record, our children are better off without them.