The Florida's Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) is going away, starting this school year in the lower grade levels, but what is replacing it will be much tougher. New Education Commissioner Dr. Tony Bennett spoke with FOX 35 about the Common Core standards that will be Florida's new education direction.
"This is a major initiative that will really propel our students to be college and career ready," said Bennett.
Bennett comes to Florida after losing the election for Education Superintendent in Indiana. His 4-year tenure there was marked by a move to these core standards and dissatisfaction with them from some within the ranks of Indiana's Republican Party. Indeed, it may have cost him the election. Tea Party members there often mockingly referred to the standards as "Obama Core," a notion Dr. Bennett dismissed.
"Common Core is a set of standards. It's not a national curriculum," he said. "It's not the federal government teaching us what we have to teach children or how we have to teach children."
What Common Core will do is make life much more difficult for students, something Dr. Bennett acknowledged.
"It will require more from our students in terms of deeper content knowledge and problem solving. It will require our students in the area of English language arts to master to a greater degree technical reading."
Instead of the FCAT, students will have to take what is called a "PARK" test. Florida was forced to revise the grading scale for the FCAT test last year after such a large number of students flunked that test. Bennett says taking the new test will present new challenges.
"It's preparing our communities for that our students will have more required of them, a greater depth of knowledge and understanding of problem solving, and that will be reflected in the assessments we give and the data we receive."
Common Core is already being implemented in Florida schools, with all schools expected to meet the new standards by the 2015 school year.