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Politics

Problem Assessment Test Back on Front Burner as Committee Meets

May 14, 2015 - 6:00pm

A three-person panel created to select an independent vendor to review the glitch-ridden Florida Standards Assessment test is meeting for the first time Friday morning.

A bill passed through the Legislature this year is responsible for the formation of the committee. Gov. Rick Scott signed the legislation into law last month. The committee was born after the governor and state lawmakers raised concerns the FSA might not be a valid assessment test because of its quick implementation and technological problems, which left many students unable to complete the test on two separate occasions earlier this year.

Scott, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner each selected a member of the committee to choose an independent vendor by June 1.

Committee members are Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Parkland (chosen by Gardiner), Flagler College Chancellor Dr. William Proctor (chosen by Crisafulli) and St. Johns County schools superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner (Scotts pick).

The law mandates that in selecting the independent entity, the panel must consider, at a minimum: The national reputation and length of establishment of the entity; The experience and expertise of the independent entity in validating such data; and The use of professional standards, codes, and guidelines that address applicable practices in the profession.

The group already had a few contenders in its draft process -- some included the testing experts at the University of Florida, University of California Los Angeles and the University of Nebraska.

Members discussed specifics of how they would select a vendor, including a point scale for each consideration. Committee members also discussed whether vendors would be able to make their pitch over the phone, on Skype or in person.

This is a significant enough initiative that if theyre serious, they should be in front of us, said Joyner.

Committee members also worked out whether the FSA would be compared to the states previous assessment test, the FCAT.

Joyner raised concerns on avoiding a company which might have previously validated the FSA.

Was there validation done by anyone prior to the FSA being selected? he asked fellow committee members.

Joyner asked his fellow committee members to move vendors who were already involved in the FSA to be taken off the list of potential vendors.

If theyve already validated the FSA, what more can they do? asked Proctor. If we were content with the present assessment, we wouldnt be here this morning.

The committee requested not to consider the companies who had already validated the test, though the companies could still apply to be a part of the process. The committee is aiming to select a vendor by May 29.

Once the committee selects a vendor to review the test, the Florida Department of Education must immediately contract with the company and the review must be completed by Sept. 1.

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