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Will Florida Back Out of Common Tests?

Florida has been one of the leading participants in designing assessments for the Common Core State Standards. But now its top education official is saying the state might pull out of that work and choose another suite of tests.

In an interview with StateImpact, Tony Bennett says that Florida "will evaluate the PARCC exam as well as any other exam." This comes a couple months after Bennett talked about needing a "Plan B" for testing in Florida, which is a governing state in PARCC (and the group's fiscal agent, as well).

This can't be happy news for PARCC—or even for the other federally funded consortium, Smarter Balanced—as the specter of holding states together to maintain viability looms large.

Remember, these two groups must have at least 15 state members each to keep their federal funding. Neither one is close to dropping below that number yet, but teeth are on edge because of a potentially competing assessment system launched recently—and very aggressively—by ACT. We've already seen the first major defection from the consortia to ACT's ASPIRE system, when Alabama withdrew from both consortia and then chose ACT's tests instead.

The Fordham Institute's Checker Finn has been wondering about the extent to which ACT's system, and tests created by other big test-makers, could siphon away membership from the two assessment consortia. We have Alabama already gone, Florida evaluating options, and Kentucky thinking it over, too. Kentucky Commissioner Terry Holliday told us for a story not long ago that while his state had faith in PARCC, it was also looking into other options as well.

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