Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 14, 2013

Ex-Ind., Fla. education chief pushing ACT tests

by TOM LoBIANCO Associated Press
Kokomo Tribune

---- — INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Former Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett is back in the public eye, helping to pitch a Common Core test to state education leaders four months after he resigned as Florida’s schools chief in the midst of a school grade-change scandal.

ACT spokesman Ed Colby said Friday that Bennett will help the company pitch its Aspire test throughout the states, but deferred specific questions to Aspire’s president. ACT is more widely known for its college-entry tests administered throughout the Midwest. But it also is among many testing companies looking to sell tests to states that have adopted Common Core standards.

Bennett did not reply to emailed requests for comment this week.

Bennett resigned his job running Florida schools a few days after The Associated Press published emails showing he had altered Indiana’s school-grading formula to raise the grade of a campaign donor’s charter school from a “C’’ to an “A.” A pair of legislative investigators found Bennett’s changes to be evenly applied to other schools but declined to address his motivations.

The former Republican schools chief and national education star is also the subject of ethics charges filed by Indiana’s inspector general. Bennett is accused of misusing state resources and staff in his failed re-election bid. The Associated Press obtained campaign fundraising lists Bennett and his staff had maintained on state computers and emails suggesting his Statehouse staff were campaigning for him on state time.

His case is scheduled to be heard Jan. 9 by the State Ethics Commission.

Since resigning his high-profile job in Florida, Bennett has moved back to southern Indiana and was in talks to work with an education group being built by Republican fundraiser Fred Klipsch.

ACT is among a handful of major education companies looking to sell tests to states implementing national, K-12 education standards. Bennett helped push approval of Common Core during his tenure as Indiana’s superintendent, but Republican state lawmakers recently “paused” its implementation amid a growing backlash from tea partyers.