Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

Tony Bennett Emphasizes Communication During Transition To New Standards

Eric.bradner/flickr

Education Commissioner Tony Bennett updated a Senate committee on the transition to new state education standards.

Education Commissioner Tony Bennett updated a Senate budget committee that oversees Florida education funding on the implementation of Common Core State Standards today.

Bennett gave a presentation explaining where we are in the process and what’s next. He told the committee the Common Core will transform learning, teaching and assessments.

“Florida’s children will be exposed to a set of standards that will enable them – if mastered – to compete with students not only across our country but around the world,” Bennett said.

The report lays out the purpose of Common Core: To define the English language arts, literacy, and mathematical skills and knowledge students in grades K-12 should achieve in order to graduate from high school ready to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and workforce training programs.

“I think it was an unintended stroke of genius that you have international benchmark standards developed by states that honor local control,” Bennett said. “I think that is a very huge benefit to these standards and the fact that they produce students who are college and career ready.”

Bennett ticked off the state’s goals during his presentation.  

1. Clearer communication with students, teachers and school districts, and making better use of the tools we have available: 

Districts have already begun completing a monthly Common Core readiness report, and each district has a Common Core lead that stays in touch with the Florida Department of Education. Common Core “Tips of the Week” are shared along with general content information for students at all grade levels.

Still to come:

  • Updated Common Core State Standards website - Providing access to resources developed internally and links to high-quality tools.
  • Initiate broad, statewide campaign focused on implementation timelines and targeted at all stakeholders.
  • Collaborate with teachers, administrators, parents, and representative organizations to provide strategic information.

2. Effectively prepare teachers throughout each phase of the transition for full implementation of the Common Core in 2014-15:

DOE provides site-based professional development, and multiple regional trainings and institutes are already in place.

Still to come:

  • 2013 Summer Institutes for 20,000 educators.
  • Competitive bid underway for institutions of higher education to develop and deliver training on new Race to the Top tools to pre-service and in-service educators.
  • Pilot innovative training techniques in partner schools to share best practices statewide.
  • Redesign and increase state guidance on teacher evaluations to prepare for instructional shifts.

3. Students in grades 3-8 will be ready for the new state assessment, PARCC, which will replace the FCAT 2.0 in 2014-15:

The state is already utilizing a team of educators for outreach efforts and involving Florida educators in the development and review of assessment items.

Still to come:

  • Item bank of test items for local use in building interim assessments in core content areas and hard-to-measure subjects.
  • Development of Florida Assessments for Instruction in Math.
  • Alignment of Florida Assessment for Instruction in Reading to Common Core.
  • Member of consortia to build an English Language Acquisition assessment for Common Core and an assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities.

4.  Equipping educators, students and parents with high-quality, timely resources aligned to support the Common Core instructional demands:

Teacher lesson study tool kits were developed for K-5, and core area course descriptions have been aligned with the literacy standards. A ‘text demand’ study comparing the rigor of high school vs entry-level post-secondary texts is complete.

Still to come:

  • Align the Florida Department of Education to serve as a comprehensive resource center.
  • Updates to CPALMS (teacher standards database) to include 3,000 model lessons, new course descriptions aligned to Common Core, and test item specifications for PARCC.
  • Building student tutorials for elementary, middle, and high school courses
  • Creation underway of formative assessments for English language arts and math for instructional purposes to guide professional development efforts

The state is using more than $100 million in Race to the Top funds for Common Core-related projects.

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