Putting Education Reform To The Test

Board Of Education Wants More Focus On Common Core

FL Dept. of Education

Commission Tony Bennett told the Board of Education the state will aggressively roll out Common Core and fight misinformation about the new standards.

The Florida Board of Education is meeting today in Jacksonville.

The panel heard an update from Education Commissioner Tony Bennett on three strategic initiatives being carried out over the next year.

The initiatives are part of a reorganization at the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) that involves analyzing every position. A lot of job descriptions may change to accommodate the new initiatives.

For example, jobs related to the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) will change as the FCAT is phased out and new assessments are developed.

But board member Kathleen Shanahan was less concerned about plans for reorganization and more interested in focusing on Common Core State Standards.

“This wave is coming to kill Common Core,” Shanahan said. “I don’t want to be seen as a board lost in reorg.”

“No one is a more aggressive advocate for Common Core than I have been,” Bennett said. “The department (FDOE) is going to deploy more aggressively than any department in the country on Common Core.”

Bennett says the following three initiatives are being carried out as planned, with FDOE taking great care to abide by state and federal statutes.   

Common Core State Standards implementation

Bennett believes this is the largest implementation ever for Florida or any other state. “This totally changes the landscape of education,” Bennett said.

It involves new standards, technology, and assessments.

The new standards are designed to keep students on a par with international benchmarks each year and get them ready for college or the workforce. The assessments, still being developed, will utilize computers and digital technology.

Bennett acknowledged a backlash against the standards that he says will be dealt with through a comprehensive communications plan.

“We have to be certain the truth is out because there is a lot of misinformation out there around Common Core,” Bennett said “We just need to say that. It’s not to attack anyone’s integrity, but there’s a lot of misinformation out there.”

736 implementation

This refers to Senate Bill 736, passed in 2011, that creates teacher evaluations and merit pay. Changes were made by lawmakers this year to clarify the criteria for how teachers are evaluated and compensated.

“We are very much engaged in how we are working through what the new parameters around teacher effectiveness are and how we help districts develop their plans around educator effectiveness,” Bennett said.

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