Florida’s Education Standards

Q: What are education standards?

Standards define what students should know in certain subjects from kindergarten through grade 12.  Education standards provide teachers, students and parents clear goals for student learning. By having standards, Florida ensures teachers know what they need to teach to help every student be successful.

Florida has adopted standards in eight subject areas:

  • Language Arts (which includes reading and writing)
  • Science
  • Mathematics
  • Social Studies
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Physical Education
  • Health
  • Foreign Language

Only Reading, Writing, Science, and Math are assessed on the statewide assessment test (FCAT).

Q: Why do we need standards?

We need standards so our teachers know what material they need to teach each year.  We need standards to ensure that all students, regardless of where they go to school in Florida, are prepared for success after high school. Standards help guide teachers in the classroom – they help teachers build their lesson plans around a set of core concepts.

Q: When did Florida first adopt education standards?

Florida had basic standards in the 1980’s.  In 1993, the state began developing more rigorous standards called the Sunshine State Standards.  These were adopted by the State Board of Education in 1996.

Q:  How is Florida raising standards?

Florida is raising standards in two ways: the testing of the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards that began in 2011, and the raising of the passing scores on the reading and mathematics FCAT.  It’s been 10 years since Florida first set the passing scores on FCAT in reading and mathematics. Think of how the world has changed since then—smart phones and GPS devices didn’t exist and Pluto was still classified as the ninth planet. Florida is long overdue for a change.

Q:  Why is Florida raising standards now?

It’s been 10 years since Florida first set the passing scores on FCAT in reading and mathematics and Florida is overdue for a change. Starting in the 2014-15 school year, more than 40 states – including Florida – will implement the Common Core State Standards, a set of common, world-class standards that are much more demanding than what we ask of students now. Florida is implementing new, tougher standards now to help better prepare our students and schools for the even higher expectations that they will be required to meet in 2015.

For more information on Common Core State Standards, click here.

Q: What are the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards?

The Next Generation Sunshine State Standards are the newer, updated version of the Sunshine State Standards, which were created in 1996. The Next Generation Sunshine State Standards define the knowledge and skills each student must master in eight subject areas.  In 2008, every member of the Florida Legislature voted yes to have the Department of Education develop these standards to ensure that students are learning the knowledge and skills needed for college and careers in the 21st century.

Q: Who created the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards?

Florida educators, business leaders and parents created the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards. During 2008 and 2009, the Florida Department of Education asked more than 1200 math and language arts teachers to participate in a process that lasted 13 months to develop Florida’s standards. These educators were teachers in kindergarten through grade 12 and college level educators.

For each content area stakeholders including business, educators from all levels and parents, provided input on their development. Thousands of teachers in math, reading English Language Arts and subject area experts participated in a process that lasted approximately 13 months.  The number of education experts involved in test development includes:

  • 20 framer’s committee members
  • 5 external experts
  • 22 writer’s committee members
  • 43,025 ratings of benchmarks through online review process from state holders including teachers and including input from all school district
  • 1,391 raters completed the profile and included: 50 administrators, 32 district staff, 37 “other interested persons”, 26 parents, 1,242 teachers, 15 expert review panelists, 7 reviewers from the business community, and 22 depth of knowledge rater.