AIR Test to Replace FCAT

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: March 17, 2014 1:45 PM
Pam Stewart

Pam Stewart

Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart has selected the American Institutes for Research (AIR) assessment test to replace the FCAT, according to an announcement made by the Florida Department of Education on Monday.

Five groups submitted proposals to win the $220 million contract for Florida’s next assessment test: ACT, the American Institutes for Research, McCann Associates, Pearson, and CTB/McGraw-Hill.

Ultimately, nonprofit AIR walked away with the contract.

"I am confident that this is the best choice for Florida’s students," Stewart wrote in a letter to superintendents. "This assessment will measure their progress and achievement on Florida Standards, which, along with high-quality instruction, will give every student the opportunity to be college and career ready."

AIR has been delivering tests for over seven years and also holds contracts in nine other states. The non-profit will be partnering with Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) to develop and score student responses.

The new test will assess student achievement based on the new Florida Standards, which were adopted by the State Board of Education in February. According to a release from the department, the new test will provide a more “authentic” assessment of the Florida Standards, because it will include more than multiple choice questions. Students will also be required to create graphs and respond in different ways than they would on traditional tests.

The test comes after a flurry of changes for Florida’s education standards. While Florida was initially onboard for the Partnership for Assessment of College and Career Readiness (PARCC) assessment test, Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order to pull out of the financial responsibility of the test. In addition, Scott recommended three hearings across the state to gather public input on the standards. The hearings resulted in nearly 100 changes to the Common Core State Standards and a rebranding to bring the standards a little bit closer to home.

“The selection of our new assessment tool is a critical step forward,” said State Board of Education Chairman Gary Chartrand. “Florida students will be assessed on their knowledge of the Florida Standards, which will prepare them for success in college, careers and in life.”

In terms of cost, the overall price of testing each student will decrease. Total costs for the current statewide assessments in all subject areas are $36.17 per student. Under the AIR test, the new cost would be $34.23 per student.

Don't expect the FCAT to go away completely, however. High school students still trying to achieve the score they need to graduate on their 10th-grade reading test will still take the FCAT in 2014-2015. The FCAT science exam will also still be administered in grades 5 and 8.

The AIR test will be first administered in the spring of 2015.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.  

Comments (10)

9:33PM JUL 12TH 2014
Does anyone realize that the AIR test has partnered with DRC Data Recognition Corp?????? what exactly are they doing with all this data collected on our kids??? I honestly dont trust any of those so called data companies that stalk individuals to learn every detail of our lives.
1:06PM AUG 16TH 2014
Have you stopped to think that they only care about your life to make money off of you? And a couple steps further...they can only make money off of you if they have something to offer you. So, they need to know what you have in order to know what you need.

This all comes back around to you having a better quality of life because companies are constantly trying to figure out what consumers need. Also, education is a business, acknowledge this so that you may be able to move on.
Kimberly... Parent of a high school student
9:34AM JUN 8TH 2014
I understand the need for testing, BUT some students just aren't good test takers. To have EOC's be 30% of a student's grade is absolutely ridiculous! You could have a straight A student drop 2 grades because of this one test! At least with the FCAT, it was pass or fail, but didn't affect the student's grade. This really needs to be fixed.
High School Student
9:52AM MAY 13TH 2014
The thought of taking away Fcat and giving us a new test was'nt because we wanted a bigger challenge i could honestly say that you guys are making it much harder for us. Smh , the fact that some high school students cant pass a simple test to find out they also cant graduate is ridiculous who are you guys to tell someone that their child is'nt eligible enough to graduate because of one test thats not right they waist 4 years of their life and can't graduate, pathetic. You guys are ruining the economy. Fix it !!!!!
1st- 12th Grade Florida Student/Recent Florida College Grad
11:01AM MAY 28TH 2014
*isn't. *waste. And it is not ruining the economy.

If past generations like myself can take, pass, and deal with the FCAT so can future generations; stop making excuses and open a book. Children in other countries would kill for the privilege to even be in school! Yet lazy american kids complain about test but can't form a correct sentence!
7:21PM APR 8TH 2014
This is a bad idea because so people don't even know how to write neatly and how are u going to grade all those test if u can't even understand what the test taker is trying to say. All the people who grade the FCAT or now the AIR test will have to be reading long responses. I hope they have a good time reading answers they can't read.
Nicole Neunie
9:06AM MAR 18TH 2014
What elementary students will take the AIR test? Will it only be 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students as it was with the FCAT? Or will we begin to test all grade levels?
Reprinted for John Hallman
8:29AM MAR 18TH 2014
I just got back from Tallahassee after meetings with members of the House and Senate Education Committees on the issue of Common Core.

I was amazed that legislators and their staff were all working off the same talking points to sidetrack and confuse those of us opposing Common Core, including the Governor’s office.

After just a couple of meetings, it would have been laughable if weren't so sad that they actually think we will be fooled by their subterfuge.

The Florida Department of Education recently made minor adjustments to Common Core and Rep. Janet Adkins and the K-12 Subcommittee passed a bill (PCB TKS 14-01) , that removes references to Common Core and changes the name to the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards or Florida Standards. Remember that last year our Florida legislators redefined the term Next Generation Sunshine State Standards to include Common Core. This is just a change in semantics with no change in implementation.

These actions fall under “they think we are stupid” category.

Despite minor changes to the standards and a new name, Common Core Standards are still moving forward in Florida.

Fortunately Representative Debbie Mayfield and Senator Greg Evers have filed bills (HB25/SB1316) to stop Common Core in its tracks and require strict criteria to be met before implementing Common Core in the future.

There seems to be a rush to implement standards that will affect millions of Florida students. The lack of transparency of just how Common Core will work is disturbing and Common Core was being implemented while receiving no legislative committee hearings or debate in the Florida Legislature.

Such a huge policy as this should merit a thorough review and public discussion including parents having the time to investigate and ask appropriate questions.

Please take action, the politicians in Tallahassee want to bury this bill and let the clock run out on the session. Let them know that you are not fooled by a name change; Common Core is still being implemented.


HB25 is currently in the Education Appropriations Subcommittee waiting to be heard. Call Erik Fresen, Chair of this Committee and tell him you want HB25 scheduled for a hearing. Also call House Education Chair Marleen O’Toole and tell her to support this bill not the one her leaders in the Villages are supporting on behalf of their friend Jeb Bush.
Bill Bledsoe
8:03AM MAR 18TH 2014
AIRHEADS have no clue what they are doing...They should have left public education to the PUBLIC. The State educationists are following the lock step from the federals.... Every year, we hear from the indoctrinators that they have a "new program" to improve education. None are field tested. And none have improved academic achievement for decades. Leave education to the LOCAL Districts where it belongs.
I Hope You're Not Really An Educator
2:36AM MAR 19TH 2014
Actually leaving things up to the individual districts is why Florida state schools have some of the lowest educational standards in the country, and what necessitated the ridiculous state standardized tests in the first place. The most reasonable measure of academic performance would be a federal assessment that didn't rely on the incredibly low bar set by generations of regional and state underperformance. Anyone claiming that local districts should be allowed to set their own standards has an inflated view of their own background, education, intelligence, and abilities, and I'm deeply concerned that they might be responsible for educating children in this state. Although kudos, Bill, for the cutesy nicknames you've come up with for proponents of a system which might require Florida to provide better education for public school students. I'm left wondering if you're an educator or a talk radio personality and if you're the former you may have missed your calling.

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