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State Lawmakers Heap Praise on Rick Scott for his Executive Order

September 23, 2013 - 6:00pm

Gov. Rick Scotts newest executive orderpaved the way for Florida to pull out of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test on Monday, and legislators across the state rallied to the governors side to show support for his decision.

The governor notified U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan that Florida plans to withdraw from PARCC. The Sunshine State will now begin a competitive bidding process to select a new assessment to measure students academic achievement. In addition, the Florida Department of Education will conduct face-to-face hearings to gather public input on Floridas educational standards.

Republican state legislators pledged their support for Scotts decision and weighed in on the decision to put the brakes on PARCC.

For Floridas future generations to succeed, we have to make sure were doing the right things for our teachers, said Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton. I support the direction the governor is taking. The governor deserves a lot of credit for making education a top priority and by charting our own path, Florida educators and students will benefit.

Other Republican lawmakers seemed to agree that the governor had made the right move by pulling out of PARCC. Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, gave Scott high praise for his decision.

Governor Scott is paving the way in making Florida the best place in the world where students can receive a quality education, Latvala said. His decision to keep standards high and not subject our classrooms to cumbersome federal assessments means educators will be able keep their focus on providing our students with a quality education.

State Democrats were generally quiet after Scott issued his executive order.

Today our governor affirmed Florida will maintain our states constitutional primacy in establishing education policy, particularly with regard to control over standards, curriculum, instructional materials and student assessments, said Senate President Don Gaetz. Florida has risen steadily and dramatically in national education rankings, not because of some policy dictated from Washington but because the people of Florida have made education accountability and academic achievement a moral imperative.

PARCC had gathered considerable criticism from several legislators, including Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford, who condemned the assessment test and said it would be too costly and time-consuming for Floridas schools. Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, filed legislation earlier this month to pause the implementation of PARCC in Floridas schools.

The support for Gov. Scotts executive order extended beyond state lawmakers. The Jeb Bush-founded Foundation for Floridas Future also lauded the governors commitment to higher education standards.

I am encouraged by Governor Scotts continued commitment to the thoughtful implementation of Floridas Common Core standards while he also seeks input from the public, said Patricia Levesque, executive director of the foundation.

Levesque also advised the state Board of Education to choose a new assessment test swiftly but wisely.

I urge the commissioner of education and the state Board of Education to move quickly and carefully to make decisions regarding Floridas assessment, she said. I know we all agree the assessment should be aligned with the higher standards, generate valid, reliable results in a timely manner, be transparent and create a well-defined path to guide teachers, protect the privacy of student data, and allow for comparisons of student achievement in Florida with other states. In order to effectively field test Common Core-aligned assessments next spring, their decisions must be made soon.

The Department of Education will now be working at warp-speed to choose a new assessment to replace the FCAT and align to the new standards for the 2014-2015 school year, when Common Core is expected to be fully implemented across the state.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen atallison@sunshinestatenews.comor follow her on Twitter at@AllisonNielsen.

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