Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order calling for Florida to spend the next year developing new state curriculum standards.
The order called for the state education commissioner to review the current Florida standards, create new state curriculum standards as needed, and present them to the Legislature in the 2020 session in a push to eliminate the Common Core basis of our current Florida Standards.
The future of the current Florida Standards is unclear, so we’ll be following the conversation and providing updates to the community as we learn more. In the meantime, we wanted to share some of the facts about Florida’s current standards and our beliefs about the process moving forward.
The Florida Standards were adopted under Gov. Rick Scott in 2013-2014, and they are largely based on the Common Core. The Common Core was a nationwide effort led by governors and state education commissioners that set rigorous standards for student learning (both knowledge and skills) in each grade level to prepare them for success in college and career. At JPEF, we believe in rigorous instruction for our students and setting high expectations to make sure they are prepared to succeed in a globalized economy. We supported the Common Core for this reason, and heard from many teachers and parents that they supported high expectations as well.
Eliminating common core’s influence doesn’t necessarily mean the end of high-stakes testing. The state accountability system, which tests students on what they have learned and assigns schools a letter grade based on those results, existed long before the Florida standards. The standards are the skills we expect students to learn in each grade level; the tests assess whether students have mastered those skills. Revising the standards will require changes to the tests, but not necessarily less testing. That said, Gov. DeSantis said he wants to streamline testing, so we’ll be following that conversation as well.
In our work with teachers, we have heard that they value having flexibility in how they teach their students. State learning standards don’t dictate the curriculum; it establishes the skills students need to learn and leaves decision-making about the actual curriculum and instructional materials to districts, schools and teachers. We believe teachers need support to implement any new standards -- with enough time to prepare for the changes. We are hopeful that the process to implement new standards will be thoughtful and include the voices and expertise of teachers based on their experience in the classroom. Parents and district officials must also be part of the conversation.
At the time Florida adopted its current standards, JPEF played a big role in informing the community, parents, teachers and system leaders about the rationale for the Common Core, and we also elevated their voices in the discussion in Tallahassee. As we begin the conversation about our standards again, we want to hear from you. Share your perspective on social media, or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.