LARGO, Fla. — Florida students will soon have new education standards for both English and math.

According to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Common Core is out, and the Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking, or B.E.S.T., will be replacing it.

The transition will be gradual, but teachers and schools are already preparing for the change.

“They’re taking the natural next step of where we were from Florida standards. There were a lot of things of Florida standards did well, and then there were things we were asking them to do more. That we would have liked to have seen, and we are seeing some of that," said Matthew Rothenberger, a mathematics specialist with Pinellas County Schools. 

Rothenberger works directly with teachers to implement and adjust curriculum. While he is confident, others worry B.E.S.T. will mean unnecessary work for teachers.

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“So the teachers had to go through all of that training, had to retool themselves and get ready to teach the Common Core. Now they are saying, 'Well on second thought, the Common Core isn’t all that good after all,'” said Barry Dubin, the executive director of the teacher's union Sarasota Classified Teacher's Association.

But to Rothenberger, this looks like less of a change, and more of a refocusing on what matters.  

“Basically we are going to see the same thing, but the emphasis might be more on ‘can you do that skill?" explained Rothenberger.

The goal of B.E.S.T. is to correct some of the concerns that parents and teachers had around Common Core. Like, getting rid of “crazy math” and allowing students to use various strategies to get to that correct answer. 

It also would not deduct points for the method used, as long as that answer is correct. 

"The benefit of mathematics is that the concepts are relatively the same," Rothenberger said. There’s very little that has changed in terms of what is taught in elementary school, what concepts are taught in middle, what’s taught in high school."

For the parts that are changing, Pinellas County middle school math teachers will get a jump start on them during a meeting next week.

“We are actually starting our process next week having teachers get their first glance at it. Have an in-depth look at it to see, what are the differences?" Rothenberger said. "They are actually going to be doing it in a group setting, creating a crosswalk, to determine if it’s called this in B.E.S.T., where was that closely aligned in our Florida Standards?

"So we can start identifying those potential gaps that we will have to address as we move forward."

The plan right now is for the curriculum to be adjusted from 2021-2023, and B.E.S.T. will be rolled out fully after that.

If the planning goes well, Pinellas County is looking into implementing it on a faster timeline.

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