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Florida Capital Bureau: "New Common Core State Standards Coming for students, schools"

"New Common Core State Standards coming for students, schools"
Florida Capital Bureau
July 13, 2013

Teachers like Rebecca Kircharr are already preparing for the immense changes that are coming to Florida public schools this year.

They are preparing for the Common Core State Standards, which will require students to think deeply and learn differently.

New standards will place fewer specific requirements on the material teachers must cover each year, and are designed to immerse students in the kinds of reading, writing and thinking they will have to perform as adults.

Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett said the 2013-14 school year will be "the year of Common Core" in Florida public schools, as the new standards make their way into classrooms at every grade level.

"I believe the implementation of Common Core will be one of the largest policy implementation lifts states have engaged in," he said. "In the history of education, never before have we engaged in such a large shift in standards."

The new standards are designed to expose students at an earlier age to the kind of thinking and writing they might use in college.

The Common Core standards began with the end in mind. They started with a measure of a "college and career ready" high school graduate, and then worked through the lower grades to determine what skills students would need to develop each year to reach that goal. As a result, younger students will be asked to do things like build arguments based on specific evidence, and collaborate with their peers to improve those arguments.

Florida school districts are preparing for their students to take Common Core exams in two years. If the experience of other states offers any indication, measuring students under a new set of expectations could lead to a drop in some measures of their performance, at least at first.

"I do think we need to prepare ourselves to see a drop in performance, because we are asking our students to perform at a very different level, which is a much higher, more rigorous level," Bennett said in an interview.

"I think we have to make sure what we do for the next three years positions us to transition into these standards on time," he said, adding that was one of the principal assignments Gov. Rick Scott gave him when he was first hired.

"Is it an aggressive time line? Yes it is," Bennett said. "Is it an overly aggressive time line? I don't think so."

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