Major Common Core Shake-Up: Florida Leaves PARCC by Executive Order
In a stunning move, Florida Governor Rick Scott removed the State of Florida from the Common Core consortium known as the the Partnership for Assessing Readiness for College and Career (PARCC). This consortium is comprised of states such as New York, New Jersey, Arizona, New Mexico, Illinois, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee among other states. Florida has been the fiscal agent for PARCC. Further, members participating in PARCC have the Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) written with the state of Florida. This may require member states to renegotiate their status with PARCC.
This move follows on the heels of other departures from Common Core Consortia. Earlier this year, Oklahoma and Indiana left PARCC. Michigan, Maine, Alabama, and Utah had left the Smarter Balanced Consortia over the past year and a half. Tennessee’s hearing on Common Core will begin next week. Growing political pressure to withdraw the state may lead Tennessee down a similar path. There is also pending withdraw legislation in New York.
Governor Scott’s executive order also requires the state to re-write their standards. The executive order was originally posted by the Truth in American Education Website. The executive order includes ordering the Florida Department of Education to rewrite and resubmit their Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver. This waiver is required for funding from the Federal Government to states. It also waives that the state meets certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind requirements.
The major issues addressed in the executive order addresses assessment, student data security, school accountability, and teacher evaluations. It is one of the most comprehensive rejections of the Common Core initiatives to date. Resistance to the state standards in the state of Florida has been mounting over recent weeks. The executive order follows a recent educational summit held by Governor Scott to discuss issues stemming from the state’s implementation of Common Core. These issues included major declines in school grades, lackluster student progress on state exams, and the validity schools ratings and teacher evaluations.
The move was met with the approval of State Senate President Don Gaetz, who opposes to the PARCC tests. Gaetz told WFSU reporter Lynn Hatter:
We have a system here that hasn’t been fully invented or vetted yet, that we are being asked to comply with. It doesn’t make sense that Florida should stay in the consortium when it’s capable of developing its own exams.
In contrast, the state board of education challenged the Governor’s authority to withdraw the state from PARCC. Ed Week reports that Governor Scott does not have unilateral authority to pull out of PARCC. They state, “In order to drop out of PARCC, a state must send a letter from its governor, the leader of its state board, and its state superintendent, to the consortium stating its desire to withdraw.”
While the state superintendent disagrees with Scott’s decision, the support of the legislature suggests that the state could defund Common Core as they did in Michigan prior to withdrawing from Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia. The state school board may try to challenge the Governor, but Senate President Don Gaetz and Speaker of the House Will Weatherford support the governor’s executive order. This may leave the superintendent with little political support to challenge the Governor and little funding for Common Core provisions. The State Superintendent may not wish to risk a political battle with the state legislature, given a significant portion of state their funding comes through there.
Good job Governor Scott!