Fla. education commissioner defends Gov. Scott's decision to scrap PARCC

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. —

Florida's new education commissioner is speaking out about a big change in the way Florida students will be tested.

Gov. Rick Scott announced the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test not be replaced by the Common Core-based PARCC test last week.

Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart defended the governor's decision to scrap the test.

"Anytime there is money attached, there are strings attached. So this is a clear way for Florida to make sure there is not an overreach by the federal government," Stewart said.

That overreach is what critics of Common Core have been concerned about.

Even though Scott wants to distance Florida from that so-called federal intrusion, Common Core is not going away.

"I don't see us reverting and totally abandoning these standards and going back to our previous standards," Stewart said.

Stewart, who climbed up through the ranks in Florida to become education commissioner, realizes the office has been in flux.

She's the fifth person to hold the post since 2011. She said she backs the governor's decision.

"I think (it's a) great strategic move, not worrying about nationally but what we want to do in Florida so that we don't allow government overreach and encroach on what we do," Stewart said.

The governor will put out for bid a new test to replace the FCAT and will take public input.

Critics said he's already taken too much input from his Tea Party roots in making the change in midstream after three years of implementation.

"I've been scratching my head over this for the last month or two, but I'll be the first to admit, I've asked myself over and over again: why now?" Orange County School Board Chairman Bill Sublette said.