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Education

New Tests Would Take Up More School Time, Rules PolitiFact

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Florida is in the midst of implementing new, tougher academic standards to make its students more competitive. To do that, the state needs to replace the well-known FCAT exam with a new set of tests.

These new standards kick in next year, so a new test has to be found soon and the current debate is about a test known as PARRC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers).

But is it the best choice?

On July 17, Florida’s top lawmakers weighed in with a resounding "no."

House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz sent a two-page letter to then-education commissioner Tony Bennett urging him to withdraw from PARCC saying it cost too much, required too much new technology and would take up too much of Florida students' time.

On that last point, Weatherford and Gaetz wrote, "According to information provided recently through PARCC and earlier by the Florida Department of Education , the complete PARCC assessments will consume approximately twenty days of testing for elementary, middle and high school students."

Really -- 20 days?

Mostly true, said Angie Holan of PolitiFact.

"The was actually a kind of tough one for us," admitted Holan. "But we ultimately ruled it mostly true. What happens is the schools get a certain testing window to test all the kids. It's not like all the kids take the test at the same time. Sometime there are computer elements and they don't have computers for everybody. They test certain classes on one and and certain subject on another day. But overall, under these new tests, they would get 20 days to test the students. The FCAT, by contrast, gets 12 days. So, this would be a bit of a longer testing regime than the current system."