What kids (and parents) should know: FL is revamping English and math standards and reducing state exams

3rd grader reading. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Florida education officials rolled out new academic standards Friday for what kids should know in English Language Arts and math, ranging from old-fashioned cursive writing to back-to-basics memorization of math facts.

The new standards are called B.E.S.T., or “Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking,” and would eliminate Common Core academic standards that had riled families and lawmakers in Florida and across the nation. However, many educators supported Common Core, a set of standards built on critical thinking and analysis.

Early in his tenure, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered state education officials to get rid of Common Core, and replace it with a Florida-based set of standards.

The State Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the new standards on February 12.

Along with the new academic standards, education officials are pushing dramatic changes in state testing, bowing to educators and families who have been irked by the long hours and number of tests administered to Florida’s schoolchildren.

The state proposes to eliminate some of the exams, such as an end-of-course geometry exam, in favor of giving students the ACT or SAT college entrance exams that can help give kids a ticket to college.

The new standards are more than 200 pages long, in both math and ELA.

The state released the standards to the public Friday afternoon, and educators, families, reporters and others will be analyzing the new standards.

So there’s more to come.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.