BY WAYNE GRANT | STAFF WRITER
Changes could be coming to Volusia County schools regarding student testing and standards, but they won’t be that radical, according to Alicia Parker, assistant director of accountability.
“We started implementing college and career standards three years ago,” she said. “The kids will be ready for Common Core. We’ve been laying the groundwork and working with teachers.”
Local students are where they need to be, she said, and schools will adapt to any new assessment methods.
“You can choose any kind of assessment,” she said. “We’re still going to teach them to do math and read.”
Testing in schools became a hot topic after Gov. Rick Scott sent a letter to the State Board of Education last week announcing the state’s decision to withdraw from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
“I told the federal government we are rejecting their overreach into our state education system by withdrawing from PARCC," Scott said, in a press release. "I issued an executive order to address state assessments, ensure student data security and support a transparent and understandable school accountability system.”
Linda Costello, who represents Ormond Beach on the Volusia County School Board, said that Scott’s action merely rejected testing being administered by the federal government. The Common Core standards, which were created to better prepare students for college and careers, are still in place.
Scott has said he plans to have public comment sessions on new testing procedures.
“We are committed to maintaining high standards for our students,” he said.
To replace the assessment system that would have been provided by PARCC, Costello said the State Board of Education will go through a competitive bidding process.
Costello is in favor of Scott’s actions in keeping the standards but rejecting the testing from outside Florida.
“He did a great job of looking out for both sides,” she said. “The most important thing for me is that we have local control.”
Parker said teachers, district administrators and community leaders will have input in the sessions planned by Scott.
“Scott wants Florida to look at other options,” she said.
She said the standards developed in Common Core originated in a National Governor’s Association meeting. Several states got together and decided it would be best to have equity across the country. Students don’t go to colleges in the same states they live in, so preparation for college should be more uniform.
To people who complain about testing, Parker said she asks them if they drive with their eyes closed.
“When you drive, you’re doing assessments the entire time,” she said. “You’re watching the speed, the gas, the rearview mirror. If you want to get to your destination, you check your car every day. And sometimes you do a big 60,000 mile assessment.”
She said testing in schools is just a way to make assessments so students can get to their destination. She admits there is more testing than in the past, but says it’s because people want more accountability in schools.
“The only way to get accountability is through testing,” she said. “But you have to maintain a balance.”