The Florida Department of Education will hold the first of three public meetings to discuss multi-state math, literacy and English standards known as Common Core in Tampa this evening.
Florida is one of 45 state to fully adopt the standards. The standards outline what students should know at the end of each grade, and to emphasize critical thinking skills, ask students to show what they know and prove how they know it with evidence.
The standards are scheduled to be used in every Florida grade at the start of the next school year.
But critics worry the standards aren’t as good as what Florida is currently using, will mean less local control over educational content, are expensive and will increase the amount of time students spend testing, among other concerns.
Before you head to the hearings this week, here’s a selection of StateImpact Florida stories to give you some background on the debate:
1. Your Essential Guide to the Common Core — Find out the basics here, and check out our timeline of Common Core’s development. “The standards set clear expectations for student achievement at each grade level. They also require students to show they understand what they’ve learned. The goal is to tackle learning problems early on — so more students graduate ready for college or a career. Florida is phasing in Common Core over four years. Full implementation is expected in the 2014-15 academic year.”
2. Education Reform 101: How the Common Core Relates to Other Big Ideas Sweeping Florida Schools — “This will change much about how teachers teach and how students learn: New curricula, textbooks and tests are being devised to line up with what the Common Core standards say kids should know. In many states, the standards are more rigorous than what were in place before, which is why supporters of the standards say this “big thing” will eventually produce more high school graduates who are truly ready for college.”
3. Who Supports, Opposes the Common Core — Generally supporters and opponents each line up into three camps. Here’s an explanation of the major ideologies at play in the Common Core debate.
4. A Parent’s Guide to How New Common Core Tests Are Different From FCAT — This video demonstrates questions from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exam, or PARCC. Florida has since soured on the PARCC exam, but whatever Common Core exam Florida chooses is likely to include similar elements.
5. Five Things We Learned About Common Core This Summer — “Teachers said it will be a big change, and one that will require more preparation on their part. They said they’ll have to think on their feet more, too, identifying and choosing students who discovered answers in different ways for class discussions. ‘Anything you were comfortable doing as a kid and the procedures that you learned, it’s the complete opposite of that,” Hillsborough County schools teaching coach Cynthia Crim said of Common Core’s effect on math. “It’s a 180 from how we were taught.'”
6. Three Questions For Teachers About Common Core Standards — “The idea of being able to teach in depth and really at a high level of rigor and emphasizing so much problem-solving – I think especially the Standards for Mathematical Practice – that get the kids talking and really problem-solving are a really great improvement. Also, having things that are common among states because there’s so much movement. And plus we compare schools state to state, so if everybody’s teaching something different it’s not really a fair comparison.”
7. Will New Common Standards Mean Less Teaching to the Test — ““Well now they’re changing it. They’re saying there’s multiple correct answers. So if a student gets hung up on ‘there’s always one,’ once they pick the first one what are they going to do? They’re done. They’re going to go to the next question.”
8. How Much Does the Public Know About Common Core? — “The PDK/Gallup poll shows only 38 percent of those responding had heard of Common Core. Even for those with children in public schools, less than half were familiar with Common Core. Four in ten surveyed said they thought the new standards would make U.S. schools more competitive globally, while two in ten thought Common Core would make U.S. schools less competitive.”
9. Five Questions for Florida’s Teacher’s Union President About Common Core — “I like the fact that Common Core allows teachers to teach. It says that a first grader is going to be able to add a two digit number by a two digit number, and it doesn’t script how that happens. It gives the teacher the freedom to be able to do that. The drawback is we’re going to end up requiring way too many tests at such a cost — both time and financial – that I don’t think it’ll be worth it. And it’ll have the same effect that we’ve been having with FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test).”
10. Florida Supporters and Opponents Race to Explain Common Core — “Common Core supporters are trying to educate parents about what’s new in the standards and why they will improve schools. Opponents are trying to halt the new standards before they are used in every state classroom when the school year begins in 2014. They say the standards are no improvement and worry the multi-state project will mean the loss of local control. Others worry Common Core will increase testing and cost more. Both sides are in a public relations race to reach those who don’t know about the standards first.”