10/23/2020

Undisrupted education

The Golden State was one of seven with a 4-point increase in 8th grade reading, which enabled it to come within 3 points of the national average. But this joyful moment is dampened by the reality that even with the improved scores, 69 percent of California 4th graders are not proficient in English, compared to 64 percent nationwide. Sixty-nine percent are also not proficient in math vs. 60 percent nationally. California’s 8th graders fare no better. Sixty-eight percent of them are not up to par on reading, while 66 percent lag nationally. In 8th grade math, 71 percent are not proficient vs. 67 percent nationwide.

. . .If there was one true bright spot on the NAEP this year, it was Florida. Making gains in both math and reading, the Sunshine State far outpaced the country as a whole. In fact, Florida came close to matching Massachusetts, the top performing state in the nation. And considering Florida has a much less affluent populace and a far larger minority population, its gains are truly impressive.

If Florida is doing that well, it must be because they are spending a lot on education, right? Well, hardly. In fact, Florida comes in at #41 in state per-pupil spending; only nine states spend less.

So what makes Florida different? Beginning with Governor Jeb Bush’s leadership in 1999, Florida has pushed for and adopted measures that hold schools and communities accountable for results. The state has also developed an impressive array of school choice programs – educational savings accounts, vouchers, and tax credit scholarships as well as many charter school options. As Center for Education Reform founder and President Jeanne Allen explains, “Last year, Florida led all states on the Parent Power Index…which measures how much power states give to parents to make significant decisions in the educational futures of their kids.”

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