Despite Budget Cuts, Fla. Ponies Up for Math

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In a state system that’s making budget cuts in staffing, programming, and even transportation, Florida is spending $200 million to adopt a new math curriculum marked by deeper coverage of fewer skills, in accordance with Florida’s recently streamlined math standards.

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) is also getting a makeover to match the fewer, deeper standards. The new FCAT debuts in spring 2011. Educators hope the trimmer curriculum will mean students and teachers aren’t racing to cover 89 topics (in 7th grade math, for example) in preparation for the FCATs.

This week’s most-clicked ASCD SmartBrief article addresses the challenges of an already strapped system making a huge investment in curriculum overhaul. Policymakers quoted in the article give assurances that money will be allotted for new textbooks, because “textbooks are sacred.”

Students and teachers need good materials to teach and learn curriculum—but are textbooks sacred? Seems you can’t swing an overladen backpack without hitting a story about a school or district eschewing the traditional texts (in Florida, even!) or developing their own teacher-written curriculum.

So what about funding for teacher training to implement the new math curriculum in Florida? How sacred is that?

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