Florida Legislators Want Rewrite of Content Standards

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — April 17, 2007 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Lawmakers in Florida are setting their sights on revamping the state’s academic standards and expanding its assessment system to include social studies, a subject area that many educators believe has been marginalized under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Measures working their way through both chambers in Tallahassee would require the state board of education to “review and replace the Sunshine State Standards with World Class Education Standards” that would be crafted by a panel of teachers, and to align state tests to the new guidelines. A House bill would also add social studies to the state testing program.

Meanwhile, a Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Don Gaetz, a Republican, also calls for additions to the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, to gauge students’ knowledge of history and civics three times during their K-12 careers. Mr. Gaetz has also supported the standards change.

The proposal has received widespread support among lawmakers and teacher groups, according to press reports.

The Sunshine State Standards, which outline what students should know and be able to do in core subjects, were approved by the state school board in 1996.

The House proposal is an outgrowth of an initiative by Speaker of the House Marco Rubio, “The 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future.” The first 11 ideas are related to K-12 education in the state, and the first three call for changes to Florida’s standards and assessments.

“In the case of education reform, the speaker talks about making Florida a world-class leader [because] our children need to be able to compete in the international economy,” said Jill Chamberlin, a spokeswoman for Mr. Rubio, a Republican. “With the [current] Sunshine State Standards, which were created quite a few years ago and brought together experts from such a broad field, we ended up with a curriculum that was very broad, not very deep.”

Teachers in Lead

The new standards would outline by grade level the essential content and skills students should know and be able to demonstrate in each subject area.

Florida’s standards received a failing grade in a 2006 review by the Washington-based Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. They have rated poorly in other reviews as well. The new standards would need a seal of approval from “one or more nationally respected foundations, institutes, organizations, or boards with expertise in performance standards for K-12 curricula,” House Bill 7151 states..

An advisory panel of a dozen teachers would be appointed by July to devise the standards, with input from other educators, parents, business leaders, curriculum experts, and citizens. Educators from a variety of disciplines would be consulted on ways to integrate content such as the arts into the core standards.

The panel would submit its report and recommendations on the standards to the governor by the end of the year. By next January, the state board would be required to submit a schedule and plan for implementing the new standards to lawmakers.

Once new standards were adopted, the state education department would provide in-service training for teachers about their content and implementation, as well as on the testing changes.

Few states administer tests in history or other social studies areas, and several have recently dropped exams in those subjects since they are not required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. South Carolina and Washington state, however, have both added mandates for testing in the social sciences in the past several years.

Advocates of improving the teaching of history and social studies say that since schools are not held accountable for what students learn in those subjects, they are often not a priority among teachers and administrators.

In Florida, the detailed House bill also calls for state standards in foreign-language instruction and for school districts to submit plans for developing elementary foreign-language curricula. It recommends that students performing on grade level starting in the 4th grade be offered a variety of options for foreign-language study, including online and other technology-based courses.

The House Policy and Budget Council was set to take up the measure late last week.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the April 18, 2007 edition of Education Week as Florida Legislators Want Rewrite of Content Standards


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

States Does a Ten Commandments Display in Classrooms Violate the Constitution?
Louisiana is poised to become the first state to require all schools to post the Ten Commandments in classrooms.
7 min read
Human hand holding a magnifying glass over open holy bible book of Exodus verses for Ten Commandments, top view
Marinela Malcheva/iStock/Getty
States Q&A 'Politics Does Not Belong in Education,' Says a Departing State Schools Chief
Improving student outcomes requires finding common ground, says Missouri's long-serving education commissioner, Margie Vandeven.
9 min read
Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven talks to students participating in Future Farmers of America during an event in February 2024, in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven talks to students participating in Future Farmers of America during an event in February 2024, in Jefferson City, Mo. Vandeven is stepping down from her position after more than eight years on the job.
Courtesy of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
States Should Voters Decide What Schools Teach?
Californians may vote to require a new high school finance course. Critics argue it sets a bad precedent.
6 min read
A man stands behind a row of electronic voting machines covered with yellow privacy shields as he uses a touch screen to vote.
A lone voter casts his ballot for Super Tuesday at a polling station in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles on March 5, 2024.
Richard Vogel/AP
States Is Bipartisan Education Policy Still Possible?
It's still possible to forge cross-party education policy coalitions, advocates said.
5 min read
Image of a small U.S. flag in a pencil case.