The Florida Department of Education aims to release its recommended changes to the state’s academic standards in September or October, so the public can have time to make final comments before a proposal heads to lawmakers in early 2020, chancellor Jacob Oliva told the State Board of Education on Tuesday.
Already, Oliva said, the department has made headway in its effort to comply with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order seeking an overhaul, with a specific eye toward eliminating vestiges of the Common Core — a campaign pledge aimed at shoring up support from the conservative base that has opposed the model as akin to a federal mandate. Under Gov. Rick Scott, the state relabeled the standards, which were created by a coalition of states and independently adopted, but did not remove them.
More than 3,000 people have submitted their thoughts about the standards, in response to a survey the department posted online about a month ago, Oliva continued. By the end of March, he said, the goal is to create a more specific commenting platform for interested parties to speak to individual items in math and language arts.
Eventually, the department intends to hold community forums, as well as seeking content experts to offer their insights.
While working through the process, the department has postponed changes to instructional materials, and has kept the current testing and accountability rules in place.
Board members raised concerns about how the initiative might impact current students, who would have to endure a transition in expectations as they attempt to meet those.
“This is going to affect real lives,” board member Ben Gibson said. “We want to make the transition as easy as possible.”
Chairwoman Marva Johnson wondered about the possibility of a tiered approach, in which some students might be grandfathered to meet existing rules.
At the same time, vice chairman Andy Tuck said, the state needs to ensure that struggling schools in turnaround mode aren’t held in abeyance while awaiting changes.
Oliva said it’s not easy to know how the standards review will play out, and that’s why the current accountability system will remain unchanged for at least another year.
“Until we get the standards review done, we don’t know how different they will be,” he said.
Commissioner Richard Corcoran stressed that the transition should not disrupt children’s lives.
“There will be no question of the fairness of the system, and we will not water down accountability,” he told the board.