Putting Education Reform To The Test

Three Questions For An Elementary Principal About Common Core

Screenshot / Common Core State Standards

The national switch to Common Core standards will continue to be a big story in Florida in 2013.

Florida is in the process of transitioning to common core standards in public schools.

The first full year of implementation is scheduled for 2014-15.

45 states and Washington, D.C. have agreed to adopt common core standards.

The standards will measure whether students across the country are reaching certain benchmarks in English, Math and Language Arts.

Assessments to measure those benchmarks are now being designed.

David Solz is Principal of Gilchrist Elementary School in Tallahassee, where the transition to common core is underway.

Q: What is Gilchrist doing now to implement Common Core?

A: We started implementation of Common Core for our Kindergarten last year. They’ll be all Common Core by the time they get to third grade (when assessments begin).

Our first grade and second grade have already begun Common Core in reading and math.  We’ve implemented Common Core strategies in third, fourth and fifth grade. We began to really work on text complexity and using support from the text to answer questions.

Q: How hard has it been so far to implement Common Core?

A: We have a great group of teachers. So really, they always want to learn and be on the cutting edge. I think that makes a difference. Teachers are always ready for the changes. They jump right in there and look for what’s best for students.

The nice thing about Common Core is 48 states (This number includes states which have only adopted part of the Common Core) are looking at the same pieces.

For us, we have (fewer) standards that are going deeper. Instead of having lots of shallow standards and teachers having to teach maybe 50 standards, we’re teaching 12 or 15 really more in depth.

So I think for teachers, it’s a lot of the same skills that they’ve been teaching. They’re not that different.

Q: Does the district determine the curriculum?

A: It’s actually a district committee comprised of teachers from all the schools in the county.

Every school has somebody go and look at the new curriculum, and it’s decided on and voted on mainly by teachers in the county.

Usually, the salespeople (from textbook companies) come in and present how it’s connected to Common Core — in the past how it was connected to Next Generation Sunshine State Standards.

Next week, we’ll have more on how Common Core standards are being implemented around the country.


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