Also fueling angst: The state wants teachers to implement Common Core in their classrooms but also blend in Florida’s old standards due to plans to continue assessing students’ performance one final time with the FCAT. Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who supports Common Core, warned the State Board of Education earlier this year that teachers, whose evaluations rely on test results, may have a hard time buying in.
“Teachers are asked to teach Common Core standards but will be tested on Next Generation Sunshine State Standards,” he said. “Right off the bat, that tells you there’s going to be a disconnect.”
Fedrick Ingram, president of the United Teachers of Dade, said, “Everybody has anxiety right now.”
The implementation of Common Core is also a concern for the creators and writers of the new standards, who say a fumbling by schools, districts or states would undercut better standards. Still, few expect a seismic shift in education to go off without at least a few hitches.
“I’d be concerned if teachers felt totally prepared because it’s a different challenge,” Wilhoit said. “I think there are going to be places where they haven’t paid attention to this and they’re leaving it up to the individual efforts of the teachers, which is unfair.”
That’s not happening in South Florida, say district officials in Broward and Miami-Dade, who must also address new requirements for greater access to computers and the Internet. They insist they’re doing what they can to train teachers and prepare schools in a process that began years ago in lower grade levels. They’ve set up web pages for professional development, established working groups to review lessons and work, and trained school-site trainers, like Alonso.
But many acknowledge it will take time.
“Common Core is a long-term process,” said Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie. “You don’t just go through some training and then all of a sudden you’ve basically got it down pat.”
For Gay Lynn Grigas, the mother of Peter, the Oakridge Elementary kindergartner last year, she’s confident her son and two other children still in grade school will be better off with the shift, even if it takes time for schools to get comfortable. She said that point was hammered home recently when her family hosted two Japanese foreign exchange students who were so far ahead in math they were asked to tutor their classmates.
“It’s not the same marketplace anymore. It’s not just more competitive, it’s changing rapidly,” she said. “Our kids have to change and evolve with it.”
Miami Herald reporter Michael Vasquez contributed to this report.
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