Pearson and Tony Bennett’s Employer Among Five Firms Want Contract to Make Florida’s New FCAT

Orlando Sentinel reporter Leslie Postal has the details on the upcoming food fight:

Five standardized test makers are vying to help create FCAT’s replacement by 2015.

They include Pearson, the testing company that has the FCAT contract, and ACT, best known for its namesake college admissions tests, shows the list released today by the Florida Department of Education.

The most notable name may be one that is missing: The so-called PARCC group, which had been Florida’s go-to test maker but had lost favor with state leaders in recent months

Late last month, a spokesman for the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers, said the group would file a proposal to create Florida’s next generation of standardized tests.

But PARCC is not on the list DOE released after today’s 2 p.m. deadline. A PARCC spokesman could not be reached.

The list applicants includes: American Institutes for Research (a nonprofit group that helped Florida with teacher evaluations); McCann Associates (a test developer that created the college placement test Florida uses); and CTB/McGraw Hill (which previously had the FCAT contract).

The new tests are intended to replace the math, reading and writing sections of FCAT. They are to include math and language arts exams for students in grades 3 to 11 and end-of-course exams for high school algebra 1, algebra 2 and geometry.

The goal, state educators say, is better exams that demand more than the multiple-choice FCAT.

No PARCC, eh? But ACT, the folks now paying Tony Bennett for his, um, services are making a run at getting Florida tax payer dollars. How’d you like to be around for that presentation?

Postal understates the reality that state educators have set a “goal” I “better exams that demand more than the multiple-choice FCAT.”

It’s simple and  cost-effective to mark multiple choice test. Any teacher who has used a Scantron machine can confirm that. But these “better exams” are going to take effort on the metaphorical “back side” of whatever exam Commissioner Pam Stewart recommends. They’ve already proved they can’t be trusted. Pearson advertised on Craig’s List in Texas last year for folks to grade the written portion of state exams.

Florida’s policy makers continue to define insanity down. Replacing one controversial test with another unknown one that’s supposed to do more is crazy enough. But to continue to make it mean everything in Florida’s every-changing, always a hot mess accountability system is insanity on top of insanity.

Next month’s vow by lawmakers to tweak teacher evaluations – somehow – ought to entertain bagging the whole thing. One year ago, senate president Don Gaetz had a far worse take:

“I also think that it can’t be such a complicated process that people can’t explain it,” Gaetz said. “When you add that to end-of-course exams, and you add that to other things that are happening in education, there’s a danger of all this imploding and causing a real credibility problem for the Department of Education”

What’s different this year?  They talked tweak last year.



About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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One Response to Pearson and Tony Bennett’s Employer Among Five Firms Want Contract to Make Florida’s New FCAT

  1. Pingback: Wealthy cruelly deprived of true meaning of Christmas | Jaxonpool

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