Much of the discussion during yesterday’s meeting of the Governor’s Race to the Top Working Group was about the importance of well-validated end-of-course tests that will be used in the assessment of students and teachers. SB 4, the bill recently signed into law by Governor Crist, will initiate EOC’s in several subjects, including Biology, Algebra I and Geometry. But the bill leaves seven more subjects in a sort of EOC purgatory, where they will reside until the money to implement them and the interest of the Commissioner of Education become available. No date certain is set. Chemistry, Earth/space science and physics are among the seven, along with Algebra II, English/Language Arts II, United States History and World History. At $1.5 million per test per year, the EOC Purgatory Seven would cost $10.5 million per year to implement.
But as was made clear yesterday, the need for high quality EOC assessments goes far beyond the ten classes mentioned above. How will it all be paid for?
One possibility for start-up money is the Race to the Top Assessment Program, a companion to the Race to the Top competition that was won by Delaware and Tennessee last month and for which a second round will be contested this summer. The assessment program is funded at $350 million, which is intended to provide four years of support to a few large consortia of states. Education Week reported a few weeks ago that Florida is one of the leading members of a consortium of 30 states being organized by ACHIEVE, the National Governors’ Association education arm. The consortium will be competing for a $160 million grant (from the total $350 million pot) which would be spent over four years on the development and implementation of a comprehensive assessment system.
However, there is no guarantee that the EOC Purgatory Seven would be included in such a system. When spread over 30 states and a plethora of subjects, $160 million over four years doesn’t seem like a huge amount of money.
The deadline for submission of letters of intent for the Race to the Top Assessment Program is today, April 29. The final applications are due June 23, and the winners will be announced in September.