JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County School Board is taking its first step to transition after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his plan to eliminate the Common Core standards.
Duval County is among many Florida school districts struggling with which textbooks to move forward with following DeSantis' announcement on Jan. 31. At a meeting Tuesday morning, Duval County School Board members discussed pros and cons of moving forward with new mathematics textbooks, which were selected in December, before that announcement was made.
The Duval County teachers committee recommended to the board the new mathematics textbooks for elementary and middle school levels for the next school year. The district discussed Tuesday morning whether these recommendations would still work once Common Core is removed. The district wants to make sure the books it selects will easily work with whatever new standards are implemented by the state.
For the elementary recommendation, there were mostly pros, including the books having revisions built in, the books easily aligning with any new standards and teachers being familiar with these books.
But the middle school recommendation had more cons than pros. The downfalls include having to make a onetime purchase for multiple years, workforce training being required and yearly revisions being unusual.
Dr. Tracy Pierce, with Duval County Public Schools, said the middle school level is where there's concern.
"Middle school is a little bit different than middle school curriculum. It's a bit more of traditional textbook-type curriculums, so it's more of a long-term decision and that was what happened today," Pierce said. "The board asked us to go back (and) rethink this."
Reginald Blount, a father of six, thinks the transition away from Common Core will be worth it.
"I don’t think Common Core is really a good curriculum because it seems like it puts away critical thinking for the kids and not really the traditional math that we came up with," he said.
Pierce said the curriculum committee will meet again to revisit its recommendations following the governor’s announcement. Pierce hopes the committee can come back to the board with its recommendation on how to proceed next month.
As far as how other Northeast Florida school districts are handling the transition, St. Johns County said it hasn't talked about changes just yet. Nassau County said it is waiting for guidance from Tallahassee on how to move forward and that this year involves a math textbook rollout statewide, so many districts are in the same boat -- waiting for more information before they move forward.
Clay County sent the following statement on behalf of Superintendent Addison Davis:
I applaud the courage presented by Governor DeSantis to eliminate common core elements within Florida’s Education System. We will continue to work collectively with teachers, parents, and leaders to identify standards that allow our students to continue to grow intellectually. I look forward to working with the Department of Education to reduce statewide assessments and allow our teachers to spend more time educating our children!”
And Putnam County sent the statement below from Superintendent Rick Surrency:
Our immediate concern is our instructional materials adoption process. It takes time to ensure that the district has instructional materials that are aligned to the state standards. With a change in the standards, the materials that are currently adopted may not meet our needs and the district may not have funds to purchase materials that support alignment. It is also important that our teacher preparation and training (professional learning) integrates with the new standards. It takes time to plan, deliver and implement additional training. With school grades derived from the state assessments, we need to ensure that districts have time to make adjustments in teaching prior to being assessed on the standards that have been changed."