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Rep. Castor Dentel: Hit the pause button on testing

State Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, a Maitland Democrat and veteran teacher, weighed in on the Common Core controversy Thursday, calling for Florida to hit the pause button on testing while transitioning to the new benchmarks.

"We don't have to test that year," Castor Dentel said. "We can pause."

State education officials must choose (or develop) new tests to accompany the new Common Core State Standards. Florida had planned to use exams being created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. But Gov. Rick Scott ordered the state to withdraw from the multi-state consortium, citing concerns about federal intrusion.

Castor Dentel said she welcomed Scott's decision because the PARCC tests would have required too many days of testing. But she questioned whether Florida could create new tests before the 2014-15 school year.

"I would be suspect of any test they tried to create to make that deadline," she said. 

The idea she pitched is similar to what's being done in California. State lawmakers recently voted to eliminate the old state assessments, even though the new Common Core tests aren't ready. That means California could go at least one year without testing data.

The federal government has threatened to withhold some funding if Gov. Jerry Brown approves the measure.

Florida education officials don't expect that to happen here.

State Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has promised to have a plan for testing by March.

"We are on schedule to have an assessment for 2014-15," education department spokeswoman Tiffany Cowie said Thursday. "No one has waivered from that."