Putting Education Reform To The Test

Despite Changes, Florida Still Keeping The Core of Common Standards

Gov. Rick Scott wants you to believe that additions proposed this week will mean big changes to the Common Core State Standards Florida adopted along with 44 other states.

It’s what he told Republican activists at an Orlando gathering Saturday, according to the News Service of Florida:

“Here’s what we’re going to ensure: These are Florida standards,” Scott said. “They’re not some national standards; they’re going to be Florida standards. This is our state. We’re not going to have the federal government telling us how to do our education system.”

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Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Gov. Rick Scott used to support Common Core. Now he's concerned about federal government control over Florida education policies.

Scott is seeking reelection this year, but feeling pressure from conservative activists concerned about the quality of Common Core and whether the standards will limit local control over education decisions.

The proposed revisions to the standards would add calculus (using Florida’s current calculus standards), teach elementary students decimals using money, require elementary students learn cursive writing and allow kindergarten teachers to provide more guidance as students try to identify authors or answer questions about unknown words.

But mostly, the changes do some copy editing to clarify objectives.

So is Florida abandoning Common Core?

Education experts said no. So did Common Core critics.

“It sounds like they kept the comparability with the Common Core,” said Kathleen Porter-Magee, a scholar at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “So, no, they don’t have a set of standards that is completely separate and distinct from the Common Core.”

Anne Hyslop with the New America Foundation agreed.

“It’s still Common Core at its heart,” Hyslop said.

Opponents agreed:

One big reason is that the revised standards still include the common standards adopted by 44 other states and the District of Columbia. The shared standards will allow states using the same test to compare results.

Florida is adding additional standards. But education commissioner Pam Stewart warned last week that new material — cursive and calculus, for instance — may never show up on whichever Common Core-tied standardized test Florida chooses.

Porter-Magee said Scott was debating semantics about whether the standards were Common Core or not. State leaders can say they made an effort to tailor the standards for the needs of Florida students and teachers, she said, and that’s a good thing.

Still, Scott, legislative leaders and others have been referring to “the Florida Standards.” And House lawmakers have introduced a bill which would delete dozens of references to “Common Core.”

“It might be a more politically motivated decision to brand them that way,” Hyslop said.


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