Girl on Bus

A girl stares out the window of an Alachua County school bus on West University Avenue.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order to end Common Core education, leaving Alachua County Public Schools unsure of what will replace it.

Until Common Core is replaced with a new program, nothing will change. Right now, there is no implementation date. The school board does not know how this will affect the state-issued exams students currently take, said Jackie Johnson, the Alachua County Public Schools spokesperson.

The order states that by Jan. 1, 2020, Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran must review Florida’s academic standards and provide recommendations on how to eliminate Common Core and return to the basics of reading, writing and mathematics.

The training for teachers and textbooks that are used are based on Common Core teachings. Moving on to something else would require new training and textbooks, Johnson said.

The school board will not know how much this will cost until the new standards are developed and approved, Johnson said. Companies that produce the textbooks and course materials also can’t begin making them until the replacement is found.

Costs for retraining teachers and buying new materials will vary based on how quickly the new system must be implemented, Johnson said.

“Will we have one year to implement? Will it differ depending on the subject? We just don’t know at this point,” she said.

Robert Hyatt, the chairman of the Alachua County School Board, said this isn’t the first time the state has tried to move away from Common Core. In 2014, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test was eliminated and replaced with the Florida Standards Assessments. The new test required the same curriculum, just under a different name, he said.

The program revolves around what goes on standardized tests, which can lead to a narrowing of what is taught, Hyatt said.

“It’d be interesting if we gave a test today on geography and compared it to a test we gave 30 years ago,” he said. “My guess is that students from 30 years ago would have a better idea of national and global geography.”

Ester de Jong, a UF professor and director of the School of Teaching and Learning, agreed with Hyatt. The method of teaching the Common Core curriculum is the real issue, rather than Common Core itself, she said.

The current state law requires standardized assessments to be given every year. These tests are used to give schools a score which determines their funding, de Jong said.

The teachings create high-stake situations in which teachers spend their time teaching students to pass the test because of a fear that failing scores would reflect badly on the school, she said.

“This issue will not go away just by removing Common Core,” de Jong said.

Josephine Fuller is a fourth-year student studying journalism and women's studies. She is originally from Hialeah, Florida.