Students, staff react to changes in Common Core standards



Governor Ron DeSantis has decided that the common core curriculum will be officially removed from Florida classrooms as new standards are adopted. The new standards are called BEST which stands for Benchmarks to Excellent Student Thinking, leading Florida to become the first state to require civics education and short standardized tests. 

Oviedo High School Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition teacher Kimberly Finnegan has been teaching for around 20 years in both Florida and Virginia, and in her years of teaching the emphasis on standardized tests have increased. 

“Everything is on the test, everything rode on your school funding, what you were rated as a teacher, all that kind of stuff so I’ve seen a big switch in that,” said Finnegan. “I think that the testing definitely puts a lot of pressure on the kids especially when they’re held back from graduation when they don’t pass a test. It’s nothing new to say kids don’t all test the same way, kids don’t all learn the same way and we’re tasked as teachers to differentiate our instruction so that all the kids can get as much information as they can and yet they do very little to differentiate the testing.”

According to Finnegan, she believes that technology in the classroom is a double edged sword due to the increased technology that teenagers are exposed to. 

“But the full access of the phones and the smartwatches and all that kind of stuff is so distracting that no matter how much technology I have in front of the kids it’s never enough to consistently pull them away from their phones without being reminded,” Finnegan said. “No matter how good the lesson is they’re still going to want to check.”

Finnegan said she believes that the school system should prepare students for real life through learning a variety of different subjects and allowing them to build the needed skills to succeed in life. 

“What the education system should be doing is having electives give kids an outlet for other interests to see where they want to go, and what they might want to do in life,” Finnegan said. “But I think education has always been a little bit of just cranking kids out as fast as you can get them out and get them out as successfully as possible and given what you got.”

According to senior Rachel Nasby, she believes that the education system has changed from producing well rounded students to students filling in a slot in a factory while creating increased pressure on students. 

“I think the education system offers pathways that could potentially put unwarranted pressure on students, and these pathways take the shape of either AP or IB programs,” Nasby said. “However even if there is some liberty in choosing a less strenuous path, AP has become the standard socially, which pressures students to excel in subjects they would care less about.”

Nasby said she believes that the common core system that has been implemented in the school systems nationwide allows for increased rigor and resilience but it needs to be altered. 

“Having more emphasis on elective classes, displaying an attention to a student’s creativity would do wonders. Having an AP theatre or AP film editing class would be incredible, adding a release or escape from the unfortunately necessary common core system,” Nasby said. “Getting rid of it, would seem liberating until a student graduates without knowing how to calculate a tip at a restaurant. Some things are necessary in life, despite their tendency to elicit despair. Breathe in and accept algebra.”

To Nasby standardized tests were seen as a challenge and enjoyed studying to beat her previous score but she believes that they should be optional. 

“[Standardized tests] don’t truly express the talents of students. However, it should not be a weight that continuously frightens students with the notion that a single number defines their high school career,” Nasby said. “Making it optional allows for some students which possess the strange urge to prove themselves, take the test and say to colleges; “I didn’t need to, but I did, and let me brag about it”.”

Nasby regards AP classes as a great way to earn college credit and provides a way to save money which she believes is tempting. 

“However, if [AP classes are] debilitating or halting one’s progression in their social life, or proving to be detrimental to their mental health, AP classes are an extra weight not worth taking on during your already stressful adolescence,” Nasby said. “The school should make note of this, and adequately explain this to students instead of using AP as the golden standard of success.”