New standardized tests that could replace FCAT might cost a little less per-student that Florida's current fleet of standardized exams, estimates show.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (dubbed PARCC) today released cost estimates for the new language arts and math tests it is developing.
The price tag of $29.50 per student is less than the $30.59 that Florida said it spent per student on testing during the 2011-12 school year.
But PARCC exams would replace only FCAT reading, writing and math exams. Florida would still need to give FCAT science exams and its own end-of-course exams in biology, civics and U.S. history, the Florida Department of Education said. Those exams are included in Florida's current $30.59 figure -- but not in PARCC's estimate.
Also, PARCC's estimates are for computer-based testing only, noted Cheryl Etters, department press secretary. Education Commissioner Tony Bennett wants a paper-and-pencil option, too, so that would add to costs, she said.
Finally, the PARCC estimates are based on all states in the original PARCC consortium taking part, she said. But some (including Georgia today) have indicated they will not. "The more states participating, the lower the cost," she wrote.
Georgia cited costs in deciding not to offer PARCC tests, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
In Florida, some also have worried about the costs of the extra computers and wiring upgrades needed to administer so many online exams.
The state has not decided whether it will use the PARCC exams, though it has been a leader in the PARCC consortium. Bennett has said a decision on "item No. 1" on his priority list could come in the next month or so.
The tests are to be aligned to new Common Core standards in language arts and math, and Florida schools are to be teaching to those standards in the 2014-15 school year.
So by that school year it plans to retire most FCAT exams and debut new exams aligned to the Common Core.
Last week, Florida's top legislative leaders urged Bennett to abandon plans to use PARCC exams, saying administering them would eat up too many school days -- up to 20 -- and would require computers and bandwidth schools don't yet have, among other concerns.