Florida Governor Rick Scott (R), citing concerns over federal overreach, issued an executive order last week limiting the Sunshine State’s involvement with the Common Core national assessments.
While the executive order does not remove Florida from the Common Core national standards, it directs the state board of education to withdraw from the Common Core national tests, specifically the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments. Among other concerns, the governor’s executive order states:
WHEREAS, the Federal government has no constitutional authority to unilaterally set academic standards for Florida, nor any authority to unilaterally direct local school board decisions on curriculum and instruction; and
WHEREAS, Floridians will not accept Federal government intrusion into the academic standards that are taught to our students in our classrooms and will not tolerate the Federal government using such standards to coerce policy decisions at the state or local level on the issues of assessments, curriculum, and instructional materials, which are within the Constitutional purview of Florida’s state and local governments; and
WHEREAS, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments, as designed today, do not meet the needs of our students or the expectations of state leaders in their cost effectiveness, length of testing time, prescriptive computer-based testing requirements, and excessive involvement by the United States Department of Education.
Scott ordered the commissioner of education to recommend to the State Board of Education that Florida terminate its role with PARCC by the end of the year and immediately conduct a student data security review to “protect student information and prevent any unintended use or release of such information.”
Scott also directed the board to not adopt the Common Core reading exemplars (the recommended reading list provided by the Common Core).
Scott’s decision is significant considering that Florida managed funding and consortia membership for PARCC. The state’s withdrawal also takes membership in the PARCC consortium from 24 original states and administrative divisions to 17 states and D.C. as remaining members. And as one of the largest members of the PARCC consortia, Florida’s exit likely means testing costs for the remaining PARCC states will increase.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) also voiced concerns about Common Core national standards last week. “I’d like to have Wisconsin have its own unique standards that I think can be higher than what’s been established and what’s been talked about at the national level,” the governor told reporters. Wisconsin taxpayers will be on the hook for the $14.5 million price tag of the new Common Core tests during the 2014–2015 school year, $8 million more than they currently spend.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) has also expressed concerns about Common Core. “We support rigor and high academic standards that help ensure Louisiana students are getting the best possible education,” a spokesman for the governor told reporters last week. “What we do not support is a national or federalized curriculum.”
Concerns about the impact of national standards and tests are real and growing. Governor Scott’s actions take the state one step closer to regaining its educational decision-making authority and reclaiming its place as a state leader in education reform. Concerns expressed by Governors Walker and Jindal show that, at the very minimum, other states should seriously reexamine their involvement with the national standards push.