Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

What To Expect At Today’s State Board of Education Meeting

More than 200 people attended a public meeting in Tampa to hear criticism and support of Common Core standards.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

More than 200 people attended a public meeting in Tampa to hear criticism and support of Common Core standards.

Last month, the Florida Department of Education listened to 13 hours of comments about the state’s math, English and literacy standards at public forums and gathered another 19,000 comments online.

But don’t expect any action on those suggestions when the State Board of Education meets in Gainesville today.

The agency says they’ll provide an overview of what people said, but don’t plan to recommend any changes to the standards, known as Common Core. Communications director Joe Follick told the Tallahassee Democrat that the agency wants to hire an independent firm to review the comments and suggest changes.

Follick said the board could receive those suggestions early next year.

Florida is one of 45 states which have adopted Common Core. The standards outline what students are expected to know at the end of each grade. But critics across the country have raised many concerns about the standards, including asking if the standards are in improvement, if Common Core will increase testing time and if the standards are appropriate for elementary students.

Yesterday, Common Core opponents asked parents to keep their children home from school to protest the standards. Opponents rallied against the standards in some state capitals.

Broward, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota school districts reported normal attendance Monday.

The Orlando Sentinel published a selection of the online comments over the weekend. Many offered strong opposition to the standards, while other were a hearty defense. Many were very, very colorful. A sampling:

“No Common core period … our federal government can no longer be trusted … keep everything having to do with schools at the state level. NO for the ‘common good … commie brainwashing!’” wrote a parent.

“What['s] more dangerous to a child than a stranger with candy? How about a government subliminally attacking our children with negative reading material in our schools? It is my feeling that this is an attempt to attack the minds of our young to adapt a liberal passive mindset. Stop Common Core as quickly as you can,” wrote a resident.

“I love Common Core. Please do not bend to political pressure from a small group of non-educators,” wrote one teacher.
“Keep all the Common Core State Standards. Students in Florida need to be held to the same high standards as the rest of the United States. We want our students to be able to compete in the job market now and in the future,” wrote a parent…

 

“This is exactly what we want our students to do. It is the heart of Mathematics instruction,” wrote a teacher.

“This is so easy! A nine-year-old could do this. You call this a high school math standard?” wrote a teacher.

“Eliminates confusion students often have with fractions,” wrote another teacher.

“This is where the kids will zone out,” wrote a parent.

Another thing to watch at today’s meeting is debate about choosing a standardized test to accompany the Common Core standards. The Department of Education has set out criteria and is asking testing companies to submit proposals to the state. Those proposals are due by mid-December and the state could recommend a test by March.

The state is scheduled to start using the next test early in 2015, though lawmakers have asked to delay that a year if schools aren’t ready for the mostly online exams.

Florida has backed away from the multistate Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, but could yet choose the exam. Or, the state could design its own test or go with a third-party test such as the ACT Aspire.

Whatever test Florida chooses, a key requirement is that the results can be compared to students in other states.

The board meets today at 9 a.m. You can watch online here (channel 2).

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