The Florida Education Association is reacting to new academic academic standards Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday.
DeSantis directed state education officials to get rid of the “vestiges of Common Core” in an 2019 executive order. Florida adopted the Common Core national standards, or benchmarks for what students should know by the time they get through each grade level, in 2010.
The new standards, called Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T), are expected to be published online sometime this week, but the state Department of Education released summaries of the major changes on the horizon.
At the heart of B.E.S.T is the theme of back to the basics. It prioritizes reading, writing, arithmetic and civics.
How students learn Math could be one of the biggest changes. Common Core emphasized learning the rationale of using different strategies to get the correct answer. The B.E.S.T Standards will focus on getting the right answer with the method they’re most comfortable with.
Fedrick Ingram, the president of the Florida Education Association, said in a statement that they look forward to commenting on the new standards once they’ve been publicly released. The statement faulted the process for being less than transparent and expressed the hope that DOE as well as local school districts work to ensure that teachers are not only consulted but respected and listened to during the transition to these new standards.
“A lack of respect for teachers is, along with low pay, a primary motivator for educators who leave the profession and for young people who choose not to become teachers,” Ingram said. “If this state is serious about addressing our severe teacher shortage, policymakers will heed the voices of the education experts in Florida’s classrooms as these standards are put in place.”
Education Commissioner Richard Corcorcan disputes that the process wasn’t transparent. He points to meetings with more than 80 stakeholder groups, the interactive website, the hundreds of virtual group meetings, and the nine public Listening Tour meetings.
“It’s been the most inclusive process of any standards re-write in American history,” he said.
Corcoran said the curriculum will be more rigorous than the Common Core, which justifies giving students less tests. The ninth grade English Language Arts and Geometry end of course assessment is phased out in the 2021-2022 school year. The SAT or ACT becomes a requirement in the 2022-2023 school year, but there’s no particular score required to graduate. A civics test for high school seniors becomes a requirement the school year starting this fall, but students don’t have to pass it to graduate.
Corcoran said he’s confident the reduced testing will not lead to students having to take more remedial classes in college.
“We’ve increased the rigor, we’ve increased the content-rich curriculum, increased our Math standards, increased the rigor in Math,” he said.