The State Board of Education has a hefty agenda for its meeting Tuesday at Forest Hill High School.
It will hear updates on plans to turn around troubled schools, approve next year’s legislative budget request and discuss how to find Florida’s next education commissioner.
But it’s what’s not on the agenda that parents, teachers and school administrators have been waiting anxiously to know:
— What is the state going to do about new Common Core-aligned tests?
— How and when does it plan to make the transition to these new exams?
“Testing is the issue they’ve got to get a handle on,” said Chuck Shaw, chairman of the Palm Beach County School Board. He said he will attend Tuesday’s meeting.
Florida had been expected to use Common Core-related exams created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a consortium of nearly two dozen states. But in recent months, some state legislators have called on the state to break with PARCC and go its own way.
And if Florida doesn’t use the PARCC tests, educators question what the state will choose.
Weeks after Gov. Rick Scott’s education summit, in which state officials laid out different options for testing as the state moves to the Common Core standards, no decision has been made.
“We still don’t know where we’re going to go,” Shaw said. “Teachers are in the situation they’ve been in for years of knowing the rules are going to change” for assessing students.
State board member Barbara Feingold, who lives in Delray Beach, said the state is working toward a solution, and she noted that Tuesday’s meeting will include an update from interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart on the Common Core Standards and technology needs in schools.
“Whenever there’s change, there’s a time period in there where you’ve got to get past the unknowns into the known area,” Feingold said. “That’s where we’re at. We’re right on the cusp.”
Feingold said she isn’t sure yet which way the board may go on Common Core testing. She also said she will be interested in the technology update to see how close schools are to be able to do widespread online testing.
She said she supports the Common Core standards and wants the state to continue putting them in place. She said the standards will “transform the way students learn and the way teachers teach and will transform the way we assess.”
The Common Core standards have come under pressure in Florida in the last few months. Scott has backed the standards in the past, but has not spoken strongly about them in recent months as controversy has mounted.
“All the politics aside, we’re pushing for these kids,” Feingold said. “Florida has been at the forefront of reform education. We have to continue in that trajectory for our kids.”
Among the agenda items Tuesday is a discussion of how the state should select its next education commissioner. The last commissioner, Tony Bennett, resigned in August amid a school grading scandal in Indiana, where he once was elected commissioner. Bennett’s resignation meant that Scott lost his third commissioner since taking office in 2011.
This is the second time Stewart has been interim commissioner. Feingold said she would support Stewart being given the job permanently.
“She will do an outstanding job at a critical time,” Feingold said. “She will create stability. Everyone knows her, and everyone likes her.”
The last time the State Board of Education met in Palm Beach County was in November 2012 at Boca Raton High. The board routinely moves throughout the state for its meetings.
Tuesday’s meeting will begin at 9 a.m. at Forest Hill High School, 6901 Parker Ave., West Palm Beach.