Recommendations For Common Core, Exams Due In March While Districts Push For Delay

Nov 19, 2013

Florida’s public school district superintendents are asking for a three-year “pause” on implementation of new student learning standards.

Florida kindergarten through second grade students are already using Common Core standards, and the state is set to shift the rest of students to the new standards next school year. But Volusia County School District Superintendent Margaret Smith told the Florida Board of Education Tuesday that school districts and superintendents aren’t ready for the shift:

 “Much has changed since the original timelines were set. We as superintendents see the need for an adjustment to the timeline as one that could not have been anticipated when the initial plans were made.” 

Smith says many districts don’t have the technology needed to proctor Common Core exams. There are also concerns about the accuracy of the state’s school grading system and new teacher evaluations,  both of which are tied to the standards. The group submitted an alternative timeline to the board, but members showed little interest in adopting any changes.

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Education has received more than 19,000 comments about the state’s participation in Common Core student learning standards. The comments are in response to a series of town hall-style meetings done at the request of Governor Rick Scott to address criticism of the standards.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says the state is reviewing those that are relevant, but during Tuesday’s state board of education meeting outgoing member Kathleen Shanahan said some comments should count more than others:

“There should be some way in the analysis, that it’s not, I don’t want to say a ‘random person’, but someone who showed up to speak with no classroom-relevant experience; to have that be equally weighted with a teacher’s experience in whatever analysis gets done.”  

The state board could make a decision on changes to common core and their attached tests by March. Stewart notes high performing states like Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire have either aligned themselves with the so-called PARCC exams, or another federally-subsidized testing consortium called Smarter Balanced. Florida is still a part of PARCC, but is taking bids from other testing companies to develop new assessments. 

The Florida Association of District School Superintendents has recommended the state not develop its own tests and use ones that will allow Florida students to be compared to those in other states.