As a result of sweeping changes in curriculum and standardized testing Florida is on target to replace the FCAT by 2015.
The time frame is tight. But state education officials say they are on schedule to replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, within 18 months.
“We are confident that we will have new assessments in place for the 2014-15 school year, and that the assessments will meet the needs of Florida’s students and teachers,” state Department of Education spokesman Joe Follick said.
Florida is phasing out the FCAT as schools statewide transition to the new education benchmarks known as the Common Core State Standards.
The standards were developed by the National Governors Association and have been adopted in 45 states and the District of Columbia. They emphasize critical thinking and analysis, and are more rigorous than Florida’s previous standards.
To test the new benchmarks, Florida had planned to use exams being created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
But in September, Gov. Rick Scott raised concerns about the cost and technology requirements, and directed the state Education Department to consider other options.
A call for proposals went out in October.
Five companies are now competing for the state testing contract, including testing giants Pearson, ACT and CTB/McGraw-Hill.
The American Institutes for Research is also in the running, as is the Pennsylvania testing company McCann Associates.
PARCC did not submit a proposal because it is funded by federal Race to the Top money, which cannot be used to win state contracts, PARCC spokeswoman Lesley Muldoon said.
Still, PARCC provided state education officials with 51 pages of general information on its exams.
“We encourage you to continue to consider PARCC as an assessment system option as you review responses (to the bid solicitation),” PARCC governing board chairman Mitchell Chester wrote in a Dec. 13 letter to the Florida Department of Education.
Follick, the Department of Education spokesman, said PARCC would not be considered because it did not submit a formal application.
State education officials plan to select a testing vendor by the end of March.