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Leon School board anticipates lower grades next year

Leon County School District officials say they expect lower scores next year for the county’s elementary schools. The school board heard a presentation Tuesday outlining changes to the state’s standardized tests and curriculum. Lynn Hatter reports the district says just because scores may be lower, doesn’t mean students won’t be learning.

Leon County School Board Chairwoman Dee Dee Rasmussen says, just because the grades for elementary schools may fall—doesn’t mean students aren’t learning and teachers aren’t doing their jobs.

“The standards are changing and we’re having to acclimate to a new way of teaching and learning. We’re not learning less, in fact, we’re probably learning more, but it will take some time to get to that “A” again.”

Earlier in the year the State Board of Education approved a series of changes to the state’s FCAT test that make it more challenging for students to pass, called “proficiency.” The move is part of a national push to raise Florida’s learning standards to what’s known as the common core—a partnership of more than 40 states all working to create a standardized, national education curriculum for public schools. Stuart Greenberg is with the State Department of Education.

 “The common core were adopted Kindergarten through 10th grade. We’re starting with Kindergarten and first grade teachers to …because teachers in 3rd grade through 10th grade are still accountable to FCAT 2.0 as we move toward full implementation of common core standards.”

By 2015 the FCAT will be almost completely phased out and replaced by the national common core system. Today’s kindergardeners will be the first group of students to take tests under the common curriculum program.  In order to prepare those students for the new tests, teachers will also have to be retrained. The Leon County School District is working out professional development sessions to run throughout the summer.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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