LISTEN LIVE

Common Core

How Florida classrooms will be taught post-Common Core will be the focus of a listening tour stop in Tampa Thursday by Florida's top education official, Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

The state is taking public input on new testing standards for Florida K-12 schools, as the Florida Department of Education works to overhaul Common Core following Gov.  Ron DeSantis’ Executive Order. Common Core is a set of academic standards in math and English that students are required to master.

On The Florida Roundup this week, we began with a look at the predicament of the state’s so-called “Forgotten Coast.” 

Marion County Schools

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he wants to overhaul the state's school standards in the next year. 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis has released a detailed education platform. The former congressman says he wants 80 percent of K-12 dollars spent in the classroom.

Teachers Call Foul On State Education Policy

Jan 15, 2016

With lawmakers in town for Session, many groups pick up the mic to air their grievances. The cries of teachers filled the Capitol Courtyard Thursday.

Florida authorities on Wednesday closed a six-month investigation into a cyberattack that created delays and widespread problems for students trying to take the state's high-stakes standardized tests.

The Schultz Center

At one point, the Schultz Center had state funding and a big, multi-million dollar contract with Duval County schools to help teachers improve their craft.

The Schultz Center has trained thousands of teachers since it was founded in Jacksonville in 1997. But when state revenues declined, the Schultz Center funding was cut.

“The recession happened,” said Deborah Gianoulis, president of the Schultz Center. “That [state budget] line-item was never restored.”

AP Photo

The Florida Department of Education says that the math tests taken by nearly 550,000 students won't count this school year.

The department sent out a memo this week to school districts telling them the results from end-of-course exams in Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II will not be available until September.

State officials told districts to calculate final grades without the test grades. The tests are supposed to count for 30 percent of the grade.

Testing experts say so far Florida's problems with its new statewide exam, the Florida Standards Assessments, are likely not serious enough for the state to consider throwing out this year’s test scores.

At dinner tables across Florida, parents and their elementary school children are trying to solve a math problem: What’s going on with my kid’s homework?

Florida is one of dozens of states that has switched to new math standards based on Common Core. The standards outline what students should know in every grade.

Experts say it means big changes to how math is taught. More focus on understanding concepts and solving problems multiple ways. Less memorization of formulas and grinding out worksheets full of similar problems.

Lots of people think there’s too much testing going on in schools right now. It’s one of the most contentious issues in education.

Lawmakers want to scale back the amount of time Florida students spend taking tests.

But at the same time, Florida is rolling out a new test tied to new math and language arts standards -- known as Common Core.

NPR education reporter Anya Kamenetz researched the history and use of standardized exams for her book, “The Test.”

Read an edited version of our interview with Kamenetz below.

Photo courtesy of FLGOVSCOTT

2014 was a big year for education in Florida.

Activists in Lee County convinced the school board to ditch state testing -- before the board reversed the decision a couple of days later.

Florida schools pushed ahead with new Common Core-based math and language arts standards in every grade, despite rising opposition to Common Core across the country.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Bridget McKinney, principal at Miami's Allapattah Middle School, says her students struggle to pass the state's reading and writing tests.

So when McKinney first read the Common Core math and language arts standards used in Florida schools this year, what jumped out was the emphasis on answering questions and making arguments using examples and evidence from what students are reading.

It took McKinney back to college -- she was a speech major. So she decided her sixth, seventh and eighth graders would have to take a speech and debate course each year.

Lee County School Board Reverses Testing Boycott

Sep 2, 2014

The Lee County school board has reversed its decision to reject state tests, after board member Mary Fischer changed her mind. Last week the board became the first in Florida to refuse to offer state tests to its students on a 3-2 vote.

Jackie Mader / The Hechinger Report

For the past year The Hechinger Report and StateImpact Florida have taken you into two schools to hear what preparations for Florida’s new Common Core-based standards sound like. The standards outline what students should know in math and language arts. When classes start this fall every grade in every Florida public school will use them. But are schools ready?

The Hechinger Report’s Jackie Mader and StateImpact Florida’s John O’Connor tell us what they’ve learned.

As we're detailing this week, teachers and school leaders have a lot of work to do to adopt curricula aligned with the new Common Core State Standards.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Ocoee High School just west of Orlando opened less than a decade ago. But technology-wise, the 2,300-student school is already obsolete.

Ocoee is part of $14 million project to outfit seven Orange County schools with fast, wireless Internet and new classroom technology.

The first step was ripping out and replacing miles of fiber optic cable and adding devices teachers could use with their lessons.

Orange County schools’ infrastructure director Thomas McNabb walked through a science classroom, pointing out the changes.

Jackie Mader / The Hechinger Report

This story is the fourth of a six-part series with the Hechinger Report looking at how schools are preparing for the Common Core State Standards in Florida. It was produced in partnership with StateImpact Florida, a reporting project of NPR member stations.

Students in Laurie Langford’s second grade classroom are reading about public sector jobs. As the students work together, Langford repeats a phrase that has become increasingly common in her classroom.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

This story is part of a series from The Hechinger Report and StateImpact Florida looking at how Florida schools are getting ready for Common Core standards. Read — and listen to — the first two stories here and here.

Gov. Scott Signs Common Core Education Bills

May 14, 2014

Gov. Rick Scott's office announced Monday he had signed a trio of bills aimed at allaying fears about the state's version of the Common Core education standards — even though Scott apparently didn't have one of the bills when the signing was announced.

Scott also signed another education bill dealing with school grades.

According to Scott's office, the three Common Core-related measures he signed Monday included:

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Last week Gov. Rick Scott delivered an $8.5 million check to Hillsborough County schools earning good marks on the state’s grading formula.

Those grades depend a lot on student FCAT scores. So Hillsborough Superintendent MaryEllen Elia took a moment pump up students at West Tampa’s Graham Elementary School before this week's testing.

"Next week you’re going to have an opportunity to do great again, right?" Elia asked.

StevenM_61 / Flickr

The 2014 Florida legislative session reached the halfway point last week, so we thought we'd check in on some of the big education bills.

The Budget

The House, Senate and Gov. Rick Scott mostly agree on education spending based on their proposed budgets.

politifact.com

It may be under a new name, the Florida Standards, but new math and language standards being adopted by Florida are based on Common Core standards being adopted by dozens of states nationally.

That isn't making Common Core opponents happy -- so now they are taking aim at the company Florida has chosen to create new accountability tests for Florida students.

jeffrey james pacres / Flickr

A computer program will grade student essays on the writing portion of the standardized test set to replace the FCAT, according to bid documents released by the Florida Department of Education.

The essays will be scored by a human and a computer, but the computer score will only matter if the score is significantly different from that of the human reviewer. If that happens, the documents indicate the essay will be scored by another human reviewer.

Florida writing tests are currently graded by two human scorers and the state has never used computerized grading on the exam.

Florida Matters: Choosing The Next FCAT

Mar 11, 2014
biologycorner / Flickr

Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart is expected to recommend a test to (mostly) replace the FCAT later this month.

A new test is needed because Florida is finishing the switch to new K-12 math, language arts and literacy standards this fall. The standards are largely based on Common Core standards fully adopted by 44 other states and the District of Columbia.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Sondra Hulette and her granddaughter joined dozens of anti-Common Core protestors as they circled a fountain outside the Orange County school district offices last month.

Inside the building, the State Board of Education was about to rename Common Core as "The Florida Standards." But outside, Hulette and others chanted "Stop Common Core!" "Keep education local!" and "Follow the money!"

Common Core are math and language arts standards adopted by Florida and 44 other states. They outline what students should know at the end of each grade.

Before the Florida legislative session starts March 4, Florida Matters is previewing some of the issues facing lawmakers this year:

Jackie Mader / The Hechinger Report

In Defuniak Springs in Florida’s panhandle, the third graders at West Defuniak Elementary are learning division.

Specifically, 72 divided by six. Their teacher, Casi Adkinson drew circles onto the board.

"I share my 72 into my six circles," Adkinson said. "Are we ready to do that together? Ready? 1,2,3,4,5..."

With the class counting along, Adkinson drew 72 marks, grouped into six separate circles.

"Ok, I shared my 72," she said. "What do I do next? Alaya?

"Oh! You count how many there are in the six circles," Alaya said.

Pages