In what is seemingly a major reversal of Florida public education’s trend toward adopting the Common Core Standards, Governor Rick Scott has issued an Executive Order cancelling any significant shift away from what are known as the “Florida Standards.”
During the 2013-2014 school year (still ongoing), Florida public educators have been required to follow the scope and sequence of C2C connection cards, which are a blend of the Florida and the Common Core Standards. This potpourri approach was intended to be a bridge for teachers that have been kept in limbo during the wait to find out Florida’s ultimate decision regarding the implementation of Common Core. Thanks to Florida Governor Scott, educators now have a direction in which to move forward, at least until another decision is finalized in 2015.
American Institutes for Research (AIR)
According to Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) Commissioner Pam Stewart, the Florida Standards will be updated for the 2014-2015 school year. These purported upgrades will be made by the not-for-profit organization, The American Institutes for Research (AIR). Additionally, it will be incumbent upon AIR to develop Florida’s next standardized test keeping in mind Florida’s tradition of academic growth and achievement. The FLDOE would like for this new assessment to include additional reading and writing components that reach beyond multiple choice questions.
Florida Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart’s Letter
In Commissioner Stewart’s open letter to teachers, parents and administrators, she asserted, “Students will be asked to create graphs, interact with test content and write and respond in different ways than on traditional tests.” This expansion is something that educators have been demanding for some time. Multiple choice questions may seem like taking the easy way out because they are not always cognitively demanding.
Is the FCAT Going Away?
In this era of academic accountability, teachers are asked to take control of their classrooms by asking and challenging the students to answer higher order thinking questions. This Hellerian “Catch-22” means that teachers are being tasked with adding more rigorous lessons and assignments into the classroom and it is only next year, in a turn away from Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test or FCAT, the fruits of their labor will finally be made apparent.
Florida’s New Test
During the 2013-2014 school year, many of Florida’s best teachers have been privately worrying about the direction of the state’s direction as concerns its education policymaking. With Common Core always on the horizon, and an increasing demand for policymakers to fundamentally change the FCAT, Florida’s educators have been caught in a maelstrom of sorts.
Ultimately, there is now a sense of closure because the assessment that will be produced by AIR will be implemented during the 2014-2015 school year. Should that test prove to be a successful indicator of student achievement, perhaps the direction of education in Florida will once again undergo a significant shift.
For more information regarding Florida’s contract with American Institutes for Research, please visit this website.
To view Pam Stewart’s letter, please follow this link.