With the adoption of the Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) Standards , Florida has effectively eliminated Common Core from the state. The plan is an aggressive one. English Language Arts curriculum will be updated in 2021-22 and math the following year. The Department of Education expects full implementation, including assessments, by 2022-23.
So what are these standards and how are they different from Common Core? We found out.
Back-to-basics approach to math
The B.E.S.T. Standards do away with what Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran calls “crazy math.” He’s referring to the Common Core’s emphasis on strategies and logic, which often confused parents trying to help their kids at home. Instead, the new math curriculum will balance skills and concepts. It will also stress basic whole number arithmetic and getting the correct answer. B.E.S.T. also adds a financial literacy course at the high school level.
No more “chunked” reading
In an attempt to better engage children, Florida is also moving away from the use of excerpts (typical under Common Core). Under B.E.S.T., students will read more complete books. Teachers will frame learning around classic literature and primary source materials, addressing every major literary period.
One of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s concerns was how, in his opinion, Common Core has led to teaching to the test. His answer? Reduce assessment. For example, the ninth grade English test and end of course geometry exam will be phased out. Under the proposal, however, all high school students would have to take the Florida Civic Literacy Test.
Focus on civics
The prioritization of civics is something new, as civic education is largely missing from the Common Core State Standards. With B.E.S.T., civic education will be embedded in the ELA curriculum at every grade level. This also includes a cross-grade level civics booklist—the first of its kind in any state. The goal? Young Floridians who become great citizens.
Understandable for teachers, parents, and students
The whole idea behind the B.E.S.T. Standards was to remove the ambiguity for which Common Core has been criticized. The standards themselves have not yet been released, but proponents promise clear and concise expectations, so teachers know exactly what they have to teach. Parents can also access appendixes and glossaries to help them better understand the expectations of their children.
The jury is out on whether the B.E.S.T. Standards will be a positive change, and teachers certainly have mixed feelings. In a survey on the standards, the majority of Florida educators felt no change was needed. There are also concerns around funding and whether or not these standards are really that much different from Common Core.
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