Putting Education Reform To The Test

Orange County Schools Want To Set An Example During Switch To Common Core And Digital Instruction


Orange County Superintendent Barbara Jenkins and Chairman Bill Sublette focused their State of the Schools speech on changes in curriculum and technology.

Orange County schools superintendent Barbara Jenkins says the district should be a leader as they switch to new education standards and add more required digital instruction.

“Orange County Public Schools intends to be at the forefront of that change,” Jenkins said during her “State of the Schools” address last week with school board Chairman Bill Sublette.

The two spoke about “schools of the future” and what it will take to make Orange County, one of the nation’s largest school districts, the “top producer of successful students in the nation.”

So, it’s out with the old and in with the new.

“After 16 years of Sunshine State Standards and FCAT,” Jenkins said, “we are transitioning to Common Core State Standards.”

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test  is being phased out. In its place, students will take exams being developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers, or PARCC, starting in 2015.

“This represents a monumental shift, and we are working hard to prepare our teachers through intensive professional development,” Jenkins said. “Common Core instruction has already started in grades K-1, and by the end of next year more than 12,000 OCPS teachers will have been trained. In the spring of 2015, the first English and Math Common Core examinations will be given.”

Jenkins said Orange County is leading the way as the district, like others statewide, continues the move toward digital textbooks.

“In only two years, most standardized tests, including Common Core tests, must be taken by computer,” Jenkins said. “Within three years, OCPS is required to use 50% of its instructional materials funding on digital instructional materials.”

Jenkins thinks Orange County can do better than that.

“We intend to exceed the 50% benchmark set by the state and have 75% of our curriculum resources spent on digital curriculum by 2016,” Jenkins said.

The district is instituting a pilot program in seven schools to figure out the best way to go digital. Every student in the pilot schools will have a digital device.

“We will test different devices, four leading operating systems, and various content providers,” Jenkins said. “Most importantly, we will be measuring the impact of the various platforms on student learning, college and career readiness, and student performance.”

The Florida Department of Education wants a computer for every child within five years.


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