Putting Education Reform To The Test

St. Johns County Republicans Have A Few Questions About New Education Standards

The St. Johns County Republican Assembly has posed a list of questions about the Common Core State Standards.

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The St. Johns County Republican Assembly has posed a list of questions about the Common Core State Standards.

The St. Johns County Republican Assembly is the latest GOP group to ask questions — quite literally — about new education standards fully adopted by Florida and 44 other states.

The group has adapted a list of questions first posed by North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest about the origins, content and adoption of the Common Core State Standards.

Common Core State Standards are scheduled to be used in every Florida classroom beginning next fall. The standards outline what children should know at the end of each grade in math and English language arts.

But as the deadline approaches, critics on the political right and left are opposing the standards. Conservatives worry the standards will centralize education, reduce local control and will cost more, among other concerns.

“Only the state elected officials that took the Race To The Top Grant and have imposed the CCSS on Florida’s children can give you the answers you deserve and need to understand the CCSS,” the group wrote. “If they cannot answer these questions, or will not, you should reject the Common Core Standards and demand that the state reverse course in this regard immediately.”

The questions delve deep into the standards and the process for adopting them. From development of the standards:

1) Who from Florida participated in the process of developing the CCSS?  Proponents declare that the development of the standards was vetted and discussed by business leaders, teachers, superintendents, parents, and other stakeholders across the state throughout the process. You stated that at these meetings, stakeholders were given the opportunity to discuss the CCSS and provide input. Please provide the following:

i. The dates, times, and locations of these meetings.

ii. The minutes, agendas, and materials from these meetings.

iii. A list/roster of all attendees/stakeholders who participated.

iv. The desired changes/suggestions that were made.

1. If there are no public records of i-iv, can you explain why?

v. What the standards were before suggestions were made.

vi. What the standards were after suggestions were made.

To cost:

5) The $700 million in Race to the Top (RttT) grant equated to roughly 0.38% of the K-12 budget.

a. What discussion was there concerning the impact of the grant money?

b. How did that additional 0.38% funding factor in to changing the state’s education policy?

c. How much of the implementation cost does the RttT funding offset?

6) As to the cost of implementing CCSS.

a. Please provide the cost/benefit analysis that you conducted prior to applying for RttT 1 and RttT 2, as well as any other analysis concerning CCSS implementation that you have done for DPI and for our 115 LEAs.

i. If you have not done a cost-benefit analysis for our LEAs, what is your estimate as to the financial burden they will incur? How much more costly than the old assessments will the new PARCC/SBC assessments be now that they have announced the test will costs around $29.00 per student.  Will the state pay these costs?  Who will benefit?

ii. Are central office administrators in each LEA responsible for knowing what it will cost their district to implement CCSS standards and tests?

iii. To accommodate the technological requirements for CCSS assessments,Florida budgeted an additional $450 million and California has budgeted an extra $1 billion.

a. What are the total costs to LEAs for technological improvements to ensure they meet the basic requirements as outlined by the testing consortia?

b. What other costs do you anticipate our state incurring to ensure that we are ready to roll out CCSS assessments in 2014?

iv. Texas declined to adopt the CCSS standards because they estimated it would cost their state up to $3 billion more than they would receive from a RttT grant.

a. What is the total cost of implementing CCSS standards and tests for Florida?

b. What is the projected cost of implementing and carrying out CCSS for the next 5, 10, and 15 years?

To implementation:

18) Full implementation of Common Core is slated to occur in 2014.

a. What will be the process and standards for judging the effectiveness of the new curriculums/assessments?

b. Do we have any indicators of teacher preparedness?

C. Are we planning enough professional development for our teachers or will more development be necessary?

d. How are we sure that our teachers are aligning their curriculum and instruction to CCSS?

e. What additional resources are being provided to teachers to help them implement these standards?

Spoiler alert: Some of these questions don’t have firm answers yet, particularly because Florida has yet to choose a Common Core-tied test.

Florida opponents are pushing for a “pause” bill, similar to one approved in Indiana, to study Common Core and its legality.

Hat tip to Laura Zorc at Florida Parents Against Common Core for bringing this to our attention.


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