New School Year Means New Challenges

By Tim Leljedal
August 14, 2006

It's back-to-school time, and Florida middle school students in particular will find tougher requirements this year.

Gov. Jeb Bush’s A++ plan includes an even stronger emphasis on reading skills. Students will also have to start thinking about their future career goals as early as 7th grade.

Teacher Catherine Hansen predicts students will do better in high school as a result of the more structured curriculum.

Catherine Hansen said, "I’m sure that they’re going to see a large amount of growth since the emphasis is to intermediate before the children have difficulties."

Middle schoolers will also have to complete an academic and career plan by 8th grade. The changes are part of Gov. Jeb Bush’s A++ plan passed by the legislature this spring. The tougher requirements are controversial, but the governor insists the children will benefit."

One of the most controversial new requirements won’t take effect until next year when high school students will have to declare a major area of study, something they previously didn’t have to worry about in the past until college.

Too much too soon? The governor doesn’t think so. He predicts students and administrators will embrace the “high school major” concept when it kicks in in 2007.

"That will take a year to develop the coursework necessary for the kids to have a robust offering that will allow them to get excited about learning," said Gov. Bush.

They’ll need to get even more excited about science, too. This spring science FCATs start counting toward school grades.