Florida's teachers and students have accomplished a great deal over the past decade. These efforts in education are a product of commitment from parents, mentors, counselors, teachers and countless others who take the time to develop students' potential. Our job as policymakers is to help our students learn to meet or exceed the expectations set forth. To provide that road map, we must start with developing a set of high expectations.
Florida's Next Generation Sunshine State Standards have helped define the set of expectations for our students, and these standards provide the basis for daily instruction. As we continue to prepare our students for college and career, the transition to the Common Core State Standards in 2014 will raise the bar for all students in Florida and across the nation. FCAT 2.0 and End-of-Course Assessments provide a way for us to determine that our system is making progress toward this challenge. Florida is in the process of defining what is considered satisfactory as well as other levels of achievement for grades 3 to 10 in reading and 3 to 8 in mathematics — a process that has not been undertaken in a decade. This is being accomplished through the collaborative efforts of teachers, parents, superintendents, higher education members, and business and community leaders.
It is imperative that Florida ensure that its students are competitive in the global economy and vitally important that as we establish achievement levels, they align with research-based recommendations of projected student growth. Long gone are the days of being satisfied with "good enough" defined without a sound basis. We must help our students achieve a level of knowledge that will help them become productive citizens and leaders. The reward for this investment is indescribable: as we witness a student receive a hard-earned and more meaningful high school diploma, share in the excitement of opening an acceptance letter to a select college or university, or get that first job offer.
The future of our students and state demands that our educational system build toward success at levels that we know are rigorous and attainable.
Gerard Robinson is Florida's education commissioner.