Its been a wild ride for the Florida Department of Education over the past year, with leadership changes and a new set of education standards setting the stage for what promises to be a year of education headlines in the Sunshine State.
Florida will officially implement its Common Core-aligned Florida Standards by the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, and with the new standards will come a variety of changes.
One of the biggest changes coming to Floridas education system is selecting a new test to replace the FCAT, which has been used to assess student achievement since 1998. The new test will have to align with the Florida Standards, which proponents say measure higher levels of analytical thinking.
Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart is set to announce the replacement test this month.
According to the Times-Herald Tallahassee Bureau, a Florida Department of Education procurement panel suggested the nonprofit American Institutes for Research should produce Floridas next statewide exam.
Stewart will ultimately have the final say in what assessment test is chosen to replace the FCAT.
Five groups submitted proposals to win the contract for Floridas next assessment test: ACT, the American Institutes for Research, McCann Associates, Pearson, and CTB/McGraw-Hill. The companies proposals will not be made to the public until after Stewart announces the official replacement test.
Florida was initially on board with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment test, but plans to push forward with PARCC reached a roadblock after high-profile legislators called upon Gov. Rick Scott to withdraw from the assessment test.
In response, Scott pulled Florida out of the financial responsibility of the test and called for three public hearings to gather public input on the standards. The department also accepted online comments -- approximately 19,000 -- on the standards, which ultimately led to around 100 approved changes to Common Core.
Yet , even though Florida has pulled out of the financial portion of PARCC, its not completely off the table. Although not listed as one of the five contenders for the new assessment test, PARCC could still be chosen by Stewart to replace the FCAT despite its unpopularity.
Groups opposed to the standards havent let up on their criticism of the Florida Standards. One anti-Common Core group, Florida Parents Against Common Core, protested the standards outside a private fundraising event held for Gov. Rick Scott earlier this month.
"Our intent is to send a loud and clear message to the governor and leadership," the organizers of the protest wrote in a press release.Stewart and the state board will meet Tuesday via conference call. Although not explicitly stated, the meetings agenda says Stewart will be providing an update on current and evolving education issues, which could imply a decision is only a few days away.
Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.