From Wayne Washington in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution:
Georgia leaders announced today that the state will not offer a new and expensive standardized test tied to the controversial set of national standards called Common Core.
In rejecting the test, Gov. Nathan Deal and Superintendent John Barge cited its cost, which could have been as high as $27 million — slightly more than the state’s entire K-12 testing budget.
Georgia will offer assessments developed by education officials in this state, who will continue working with their counterparts in the region toward the goal of offering a regional test.
“Assessing our students’ academic performance remains a critical need to ensure that young Georgians can compete on equal footing with their peers throughout the country,” Deal said in a joint statement with Barge released by the state Department of Education. “Georgia can create an equally rigorous measurement without the high costs associated with this particular test. Just as we do in all other branches of state government, we can create better value for taxpayers while maintaining the same level of quality.”
Georgia’s decision to pull out from the 22-state consortium developing the test is another sign of the growing unease across the country with the test and with Common Core, which some have criticized as a national takeover of public education.
Barge cited costs, technical concerns and fears that the test could limit the state’s flexibility in crafting its own curriculum as reasons for not offering the test, which was supposed to be given to Georgia students as soon as the 2014-2015 school year.
Barge, like Florida commissioner Tony Bennett, is on PARCC’s governing board. House leader Will Weatherford and Senate president Don Gaetz sent a letter to Bennett last week asking him to withdraw from PARCC. Bennett’s odd “thank you” and promise to “give the idea some consideration” is, at best a saving face gesture. Weatherford and Gaetz are the only two Florida politicians that matter as they hold the purse strings.
PARCC – and perhaps Common Core – are crumbling. Bennett is in a tight spot as he serves as PARCC’s fiscal agent. He doesn’t have the juice to say no to Gaetz and Weatherford. The two must have already received the blessings of Jeb Bush who has been curiously silent on Common Core/PARCC’s demise. Perhaps it is true that Bush is aiming for the White House in 2016 and doesn’t need this mess on his plate.
At further risk is Pearson. They bragged to potential investors in February that they have been awarded the contract to create and administrate PARCC. What role Bennett had in the decision to go with Pearson – he was PARCC fiscal agent while Indian’s ed boss – is uncertain.