School Lobbyist: Longer Transition Needed For New Curriculum Testing

Palm Beach County School District lobbyist Vern Pickup-Crawford spoke to the Royal Palm Beach Education Advisory Board on Monday about challenges created for educators as a result of state and federal changes.

In particular, there has been a great deal of parental concern about the new Common Core curriculum, now the Florida Standards, being put in place, especially for math. The issue came up recently at the five hearings conducted by the school district, including one at Royal Palm Beach High School on Oct. 13.

“A lot of people have addressed the issue of fifth grade math and changing how you go about it,” Crawford said. “Much of this is invoking different critical thinking skills or analytic skills as to how you approach a problem, as well as what the answer is.”

He said that the curriculum change, coupled with other factors, including altered high school graduation requirements enacted by the state in 2010, teacher evaluation, technology and how to go about implementing a new testing system, all have added to the complexity.

“All these are moving pieces,” Crawford said. “The fact of the matter is they are not all developed. You’ve got to build the airplane and test it first before you really fly it. We had people in Tallahassee in 2010 and 2011 who patted themselves on the back and said, ‘Isn’t this great? We’re flying the plane and still building it.’ As we get closer to the consequences of this state policy, people have become much more in tune to the issues that we have.”

He said that numerous school districts across Florida and in many areas of the nation are raising the same concerns. “It’s all about planning and having good, solid policy, which, quite frankly, we’ve got some concerns about as we progress out into this year,” he said.

Crawford said that Marcia Andrews, the District 6 representative on the Palm Beach County School Board, has been working at the forefront of the issue with the Florida School Board Association, but they are also trying to focus on key issues relative to assessment.

“One of them that came up loud and clear from the five meetings that we had was the fact of technology,” he said. “How many third-graders, how many 8-year-olds, for that matter, fifth-graders, how many 10-year-olds, are fully proficient in the use of a keyboard and mouse in a timed situation. The student is taking a 90-minute test, has to be able to read what the issues are, formulate in their mind a response to that, be able to scroll back and forth accurately, and respond with accuracy on a keyboard in 90 minutes?”

Not all students will have that proficiency, he said.

“Keyboarding skills are not currently a state standard,” Crawford added. “That’s not to say that 8-year-olds and 10-year-olds cannot learn keyboarding skills.”

However, it takes time, effort and all students need to have access to a keyboard outside the school setting.

“We really need some type of paper-based option at this point until we are able to get to where the state wants us to be,” Crawford said, adding that last week, Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart issued a memorandum stating that paper exams would be available for writing in grades four through seven. “That’s not the total picture. It doesn’t address reading or other issues, but it is an indication that the department and the state board are listening, which is a major significant move that we have had in the past year.”

He added that the Palm Beach County School Board passed a resolution in September addressing those issues at both the state and federal level as it pertains to student assessment and district accountability.

“This resolution began as a Palm Beach County effort,” Crawford said. “It’s making the rounds around the state. What we’re asking for at this point is the same as last year… We need a transition period. We need to have an orderly period of at least three years.”


  1. Unfortunately, this is what happens when educational decision making is removed from the Local Level and the Federal Government starts to take over. (from dictating what your children eat, to how your children should be taught). The Federal Government won’t release funds to any of the States unless the States enact what the Feds want. When you have billions and billions of dollars being offered to the States, you do what the Feds want.

    It always with ‘good intentions’ that the Federal Govenment starts dictating to States and Local entities. Unfortunately, those ‘far away in the Federal Governmen’t are too removed from Local knowledge.

    Educational Overreach hits the guts of all the Moms and Dads and demonstrates how the faraway ‘Good Intentioned’ Governmental Overreach has on all of us. The Federal Government knows what is Best for Your Children. It is just the becoming. The Local Education Agency is just going to have to enact what the Feds want.

    And please do not listen to anyone of any group (even Educators) that cites other countries and their educational systems. The USA is unique, your State is unique and your community is unique. The ‘success’ in another country can not be duplicated in the whole of the USA. People have been pointing to other countries (Denmark, Sweden, Japan) Educational systems forever. Their Educational Systems can not be replicated on a mass scale, let alone, on a community scale.

    Local Moms and Dads are fighting the Federal Government. The State is doing what the Federal Government is demanding.

    Too much governmental involvement in any local issue, is not good. In the future, watch out for local political and State political candidates who want more and more Federal involvement. Less is More. And watch out for political parties to ‘claim’ they are for parents, when in reality, they are for advancing their political candidates’ re-election.

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