Putting Education Reform To The Test

Tony Bennett Says Update On Common Core Progress Coming Next Week

Jordan Michael/StateImpact Florida

Education Commissioner Tony Bennett says Common Core is about local control, not federal intervention.

Education Commissioner Tony Bennett says he will have more information next week about plans for implementing new education standards known as Common Core.

The State Board of Education is meeting next week.

“We have rolled out a very aggressive implementation plan,” Bennett said. “We know that we have to be fully implemented and prepared to teach and assess these standards in 2014-15.”

Florida and 45 other states are transitioning to Common Core.

Two consortia of states are creating assessments that will replace currents tests like the FCAT. Bennett and others have questioned whether the new test will be ready and whether all of Florida’s 67 school districts will have the proper technology in time to give those assessments.

Bennett suggested the state should have a “Plan B” in case districts don’t have all the equipment to start the new assessments in 2014.

No alternative plan has been announced. But he says the roll out is on schedule so far.

“We will work very hard with our districts. We will make sure that our teachers who are serving students today in schools are prepared to teach to these (standards),” Bennett said. “We’re working with teacher preparation programs to make sure that our future teachers are also prepared to teach to them.”

New concerns about the standards are being expressed by a bipartisan array of groups.

An article in the National Review Online describes the backlash:

The federal government has spent billions to move Common Core forward, and it has put billions more on the line. Unfortunately, parents, teachers, tea-party activists, and governors have every reason to believe Common Core represents major, unprecedented federal intervention into education.

Washington is financing the two national testing consortia that are creating the Common Core assessments.

And now, they have established a technical-review panel to work with the testing consortia on item design and validation.

For an undertaking that claims to be largely free of federal involvement, Common Core has quite a few federal fingerprints on it.

Bennett disagrees with the criticism.

“I have been involved with this movement really since it began almost,” Bennett said. “I think we have to take a look at how this all started. This started with a call for internationally bench-marked standards so that our students are held to the standards of their international peers.”

Bennett says the most important thing about the standards is that they are state-driven.

“These standards were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers,” Bennett said. “They were not developed by the federal government, and they honor local control.”

“They give local teachers the flexibility to teach to these standards in a way that best meets the needs of children. So I don’t believe this is in any way, shape or form a federal takeover of education,” Bennett said.

Reporter Jordan Michael contributed to this story.


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