Message from Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart

Welcome, readers!  It is truly an honor for me to serve as your Commissioner of Education.

Much of my adult life has focused on education. Whether serving as a teacher, guidance counselor, principal, deputy superintendent, or Chancellor of Public Schools, I believe that every student has the right to a quality education.

During my 32 year career in Florida’s public school system, my driving force has been student success. Education is a fundamental component of our economy and we need to adapt constantly to meet the demands of our society. It is important that we continue to keep students motivated, ahead of the curve, and better prepared for college, career, and life.

 As we transition to the Common Core State Standards, I am confident that Florida will continue to serve as a national leader in education reform. Our students, parents, educators, communities, and education stakeholders are essential to Florida’s success during this time.  I am committed to communicating openly with educators and the public about education and accountability.

There are several ways that you can stay up-to-date about important educational issues. If you are a parent, please visit the Just for Parents Online Community to find information   and sign up to receive our monthly newsletter. If you are a teacher, please visit our Just for Teachers website to read about the latest resources for your classroom and to communicate with teachers across the state. And, if you are interested in a broad range of educational news, you can sign up for Education Works, a bi-weekly education update.

 Great things are on the horizon! Best wishes for a safe and productive school year.

Commissioner Robinson’s Response to the Tampa Bay Times July 30 Politifact article

I was disappointed in the Tampa Bay Times July 30 PolitiFact article regarding a recent statement I made that the FCAT accounts for “less than one percent of the instructional time.”  The context of my statement related to the minutes spent to take the exam in relation to the minimum required minutes of annual instruction in our public schools.  My statement was made in direct response to a claim that our students are wasting too much time “taking required tests.”

In this article, PolitiFact agreed that evidence provided to them by the Department of Education verified the accuracy of my statement when taken in this context.  However, PolitiFact claims my statement was made to deflect criticism that too much time is spent “teaching to the test.”  If this were true, I would agree with PolitiFact’s conclusion.  However, since PolitiFact misrepresents the context of my statement, I rate their finding as False.

Before I leave this subject, I understand there are concerns that there is too much testing, too much time spent practicing for tests, and not enough time spent teaching to required standards.  I want to assure your readers that the Florida Department of Education will continue to look for opportunities to improve the way we use testing to inform instruction and ensure accountability for students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers in Florida.