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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Waiting for the Common Core, Pasco puts off textbook adoption



Florida's march toward full implementation of the Common Core standards in math and reading continues with all due haste. Gov. Rick Scott has set the matter as Priority No. 1 for incoming education commissioner Tony Bennett, and districts are moving rapidly toward the goal of more critical and analytical thinking skills, and higher expectations generally.

There's been much debate over whether this move is a good one. But given that it's happening, educators are scrambling. And one of the big questions out there is whether the textbooks available to them will meet the new demands.

Pasco County school leaders, hoping to better understand how their instructional materials needs connect to Common Core, have decided to put off adoption of K-5 language arts textbooks for a full year. That follows the footsteps of the state of Louisiana. Assistant superintendent Amelia Van Name Larson alerted the School Board of that decision on Thursday:

"As you may be aware, the state review process of K-5 English-Language Arts (ELA) materials has been delayed, and the finalization of the adopted list has been postponed.  This has provided us an opportunity to reflect on our instructional materials adoption process.  

"As we move forward toward implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts, we must consider consider how future instructional materials align with the standards themselves and with the expectations of PARCC assessments.  State statute allows us two years to adopt core curriculum, and since the adoption cycle was shortened from 6 years to 5 after the time of the MMH Treasures adoption, those materials will still be under contract for another year. We will be working with  MMH, the current company, to inquire what professional development and CCSS supplements to Treasures could be provided for 1 year to support transition to CCSS.

"With this in mind we have elected to pause Pasco's adoption process at this time to afford all stakeholders the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the standards and necessary instructional shifts in order to evaluate what instructional methodologies and materials will best support our students mastery of the CCSS.  This will also give us the opportunity to benefit from the State of Florida review."

Florida also is reconsidering whether it will continue statewide textbook adoptions, which could further complicate the decisions made.

Meantime, the discussions continue over the many details of Common Core, including the role of literature vs. nonfiction in reading assignments, the reliance on testing, and even the methods by which the curriculum is being written. Here are some of the more thought-provoking recent articles on Common Core for your consideration:

What's your take on the Common Core? How should schools and districts react to it? Does the Florida Legislature and Governor's Office need to do anything differently in the implementation? 

[Last modified: Friday, January 11, 2013 9:28am]


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