Guest post by DOE Educational Policy Development Director Lydia Southwell
In today’s marketplace, we are not just working with and competing with the person next to us, we are a part of a global economy and need to ensure our students are prepared for the challenge.
As we celebrate International Education Week this year, it is a good opportunity to reflect and promote the importance of “Inspiring Students Locally to Succeed Globally,” the theme for this year’s celebration.
So what is Florida doing to prepare its students?
Many Florida school districts offer dual language programs, which means part of the school day is taught in another language.
Some districts also offer special exchange programs, such as Palm Beach County’s relationship with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Kingdom of Spain. The effort allows some Florida teachers to teach in Spain and some Spanish teachers to teach in Florida. The experience is beneficial for both the students and the teachers. The district’s students also have the opportunity to hold live online chat sessions with Spanish students.
Colleges and universities throughout the state also offer study abroad programs that are extremely beneficial in two ways:
- When American students study in other nations they learn more than what is in their syllabi, they learn the culture, something that cannot be taught in a classroom.
- International education is a vital service industry, bringing more than $20 billion into our country in 2009-10. According to Open Doors, 260,327 U.S. students studied abroad in 2008-09, and 690,923 international students from more than 200 countries studied in the U.S. in 2009-10.
But we are not stopping there.
Before full implementation of the Common Core State Standards, Florida is gathering information about how our students compare internationally in reading, mathematics and science. We are participating in Trends in the International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Adjustments to Florida standards will be made based on the results of these studies.
Do your children participate in dual language or study abroad programs? What has their experience been?