Florida Transitioning to B.E.S.T Standards for Education: What It Means for Schools and Teachers

Published: July 29, 2021, 6:08 p.m.

Schools in Florida are about to experience a significant change in their curriculum and the way students are assessed thanks to the launch of a brand new set of state education standards. Schools across the state will say goodbye to LAFS and MAFS  in favor of BEST, the new standards for guiding student progress in Florida.

By implementing BEST, the Florida Department of Education hopes to reach the following goals as expressed on the Standards Review page of their official website.

  • Eliminate Common Core
  • Create a roadmap to #1 standards in the U.S.
  • Include Florida parents and teachers in the process
  • Increase the quality of curriculum
  • Streamline testing
  • Prioritize civics 
  • Outline a pathway for Florida to become the most literate state in the nation

What began as an executive order from Florida governor Ron DeSantis has become the new educational standards for the state of Florida. Over the course of BEST’s path to implementation, the standards have gone through 100,000 reviews, 154 meetings, and 9 public meetings with citizens across the state. In the coming months, all of that work will be put into action as BEST begins to go into effect in the 2021-2022 school year.

At USATestprep, we’re already equipped to provide standards-aligned practice tools and learning resources to help students master BEST standards. . But we also want to help you learn more about what BEST means for Florida education, how it differs from LAFS and MAFS, and when you can expect it to start affecting the curriculum in your district. 

What is BEST?

BEST stands for Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking. These are new educational standards for mathematics and language arts designed to replace the standards based on Common Core. It was unanimously approved by the Florida Board of Education and published in February 2020. The Language Arts curriculum based on the BEST standards will be implemented in the coming 2021-2022 school year, with math taking effect next year. By 2022-2023, the Department of Education expects that the standards  will be fully implemented, including assessments.

Here’s what Florida educators and lawmakers hope the shift to BEST will provide students and educators:


  • Ends confusing math that was a major roadblock for parents helping students at home
  • Flexibility for students to show their unique strategy for problem-solving
  • Focus on correct answer, not just the method used to obtain it
  • Balanced emphasis on skills vs. concepts
  • Financial literacy added to curriculum
  • Moves mastery of basic whole number arithmetic from 6th grade to 5th grade
  • Clearer indications of how different topics connect within a grade and from one grade to the next

Language Arts

  • Integrated booklist across all grades (first in nation)
  • Framing learning around classic literature and primary source materials from every literary period
  • Civic literacy embedded in every grade
  • More use of rhetoric and debate
  • Benchmarks specifically for secondary students reading below grade level
  • Consistent vocabulary so parents and teachers know what’s being asked of students

So how exactly does BEST compare with the standards it’s replacing?

BEST vs. Common Core

Florida Education Commissioner, Richard Corcoran, has publicly referenced what he calls ‘crazy math’ as one of the perceived failings of Common Core. He’s referring to strategy- and logic-based problem solving that some have criticized as being confusing for both students and parents trying to help their children with homework. Under BEST, the curriculum is designed to focus more on baseline skills, concepts, and arithmetic. BEST also notably adds a financial literacy course for high school students.

BEST is also designed to engage students with less excerpt-based reading, instead focusing on reading complete books that will help children to be more excited and interested in reading. 

Students will be required to take the Florida Civic Literacy Test in an effort to ensure that students leave school with a basic understanding of their roles, rights, and responsibilities as citizens. This emphasis on civics is a major contrast with Common Core, in which civic education is mostly missing. With BEST, civics will be a part of Florida curriculum beginning in the early grades and continuing through high school. 

The BEST Rollout Timeline

When the transition to BEST was announced, the Florida Department of Education released a schedule outlining when certain benchmarks for rollout should be reached. In 2020-2021, professional development for educators began and instructional materials for BEST language arts standards were shared as the adoption process began. In the 2021-2022 school year, the adoption process for K-12 math will begin, and the new K-2 language arts standards are expected to be implemented fully throughout the state.

For math in grades K-12 and language arts in grades 3-12, the old standards may continue to be taught for at least one more school year. That said, this decision is being left largely up to the individual districts based on how quickly they’re able to implement the new standards.

This tiered rollout has left many teachers and schools wondering whether some of their most essential tools, such as USATestprep, will cover their district’s standards — whether they’ve already shifted to BEST or not.

USATestprep Covers Both Standards

Fortunately, USATestprep is equipped to cover both BEST and the current standards. Our subscribers will benefit from having access to both sets of standards in time for the 2021-2022 school year, so no matter what their school district determines is the right schedule for implementing BEST, they’ll be ready.

Want to learn more about how USATestprep helps teachers and students meet their state’s unique benchmarks, standards, and assessments? Get started today.