Governor Rick Scott today announced his College and Career FIRST (Focusing Investments on Results for Students and Teachers) education agenda for the 2013 legislative session at the Market Watch Education Summit. During last month's education listening tour, Governor Scott met with parents, teachers, students, superintendents and union representatives to get ideas on how to better prepare students for college and careers. Governor Scott's education agenda is based on the feedback he received and is focused on producing better results for teachers and students.
"We all agree that we want to invest in education and last year, we invested a billion dollars more in education funding. I am committed to protecting current education funding levels in this year's budget, and also working to increase our investment in education as our economy grows to support further investments," said Governor Rick Scott. "Any "Investment' we make in education must be focused on "Results for Students and Teachers.' We need to be investing our resources and our energies in policies that work and our agenda for the upcoming legislative session will do just that."
There are three main goals in the College and Career First Agenda:
GOAL 1: Accountability in Transition: Florida will not implement new testing requirements that do not support the new Common Core State Standards
The Common Core State Standards are the new measures that will drive accountability in the classroom. The transition is underway now and the new standards will take full effect next fall. These standards have been adopted in 45 states and the District of Columbia and were developed by educators, business leaders and college professors.
A student's performance against the Common Core standards will be a practical, tangible measure of how they will perform in both higher education and the workforce.
For example, under these new standards, students will no longer just be asked to answer math questions like the FCAT did. Instead, they will be asked to write out an explanation of how they came up with their answer. This will give educators better information about how students are learning.
As the new standards are implemented, the FCAT for math and English will be eliminated. However, there will still be accountability in Common Core that will help teachers evaluate student progress and change their instruction as needed to drive better outcomes.
The shift to Common Core will not be a curveball thrown into Florida's education system, but will be clearly communicated to students, parents and teachers to ensure success in the classroom.
"We should not test students for the sake of testing. Just like in business, measurement should be focused on results -- and the new Common Core Standards we are implementing will do just that," said Governor Scott. "It is imperative that we give teachers time to transition to these the Common Core Standards and to achieve that, we will not make any new testing requirements that do not support these standards. Getting this transition right is critical and is the best mechanism we have to ensure our kids are well prepared for college and careers."
GOAL 2: Support Teachers: Florida must support teachers by giving them the tools they need to succeed.
Teacher Supply Program: Under this program, every teacher will be given a debit card, supported by state, district, and hopefully private sector funds to purchase supplies for their classroom without spending their personal money, like they do today. Businesses will have the opportunity to invest in classrooms across Florida by working with local districts to support this award program.
Competitive Teacher Training Grant: $2 million of state funds will be invested to create a competitive teacher training grant which will also leverage private sector funding and federal grant dollars to increase teacher training programs.
Mentor Program Funding: Accountability on current mentor program funding will be established to ensure Florida is funding programs that help prepare students for college and careers.
"Teachers are the lifeblood of our classrooms and they help students obtain the skills and talents they will need to get a job, build a family and live their version of the American Dream," said Governor Rick Scott. "Our $2 million state investment will allow districts to partner with businesses and education foundations to compete for funds they can tailor to support teachers. Teachers should not have to worry about how they will obtain the tools and training they will need to educate our children."
GOAL 3: Flexibility in Education: Florida must increase flexibility in education by eliminating unnecessary regulations so teachers do not lose valuable time preparing students for college and careers
Eliminate Regulations: Many of the regulations recommended to Governor Scott by a panel of seven superintendents will be eliminated to streamline the work of Florida educators. Teachers and superintendants have said they waste valuable time on unnecessary rules and outdated regulations that could be better spent on helping students in the classroom.
District Flexibility: With the move toward more digital materials in the classroom, the law to allow all districts maximum flexibility in purchasing instructional materials will be changed this year. School districts will no longer be restricted to only paper books -- but can instead also purchase software programs or other technology.
Remove Enrollment Caps: Enrollment caps on existing charter schools will be removed. Parents will have more options for their child's success -- especially when their child is in a failing school. In business, choice and competition create excellence. Increasing options in education will drive increased results for Florida students.
District Charter Innovation Schools: Legislation will be pursue to allow school districts that already have charter schools to be given the ability to open "District Charter Innovation Schools." These can be operated by the district with the same funding levels and create more options for parents and students.
"The absolute top priority of our administration is to create jobs and to educate our workers to fill those jobs. A growing economy demands an educated, trained workforce and we must work together to improve our education system for all of Florida's students," said Governor Rick Scott. "Our goal is clear -- we must focus our entire education system on better preparing students to go on to college or a career. During the upcoming legislative session, we are working to make sure all of Florida's students are ready to compete and succeed in the 21st century global economy."