Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Reforms in Florida

The reforms in Florida since 1999 – and extraordinary improvements in the state's students' success – is the best large-scale example of the reform agenda – see:  Here's the beginning of what I wrote in September:


STOP THE PRESSES!  Here is a slide presentation (which I've posted at: by Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education ( that I think is important enough (and long enough: 99 slides) to send out as its own email.


The reason I think this is so important is that Florida represents the best response to the frequent charge from the anti-reformers that there's no evidence that the reform agenda works.  To quote Gary Rubenstein, "your solutions haven't been shown to work, even on a small scale except for some KIPPs." 


I think this is wrong, but there's no doubt that reformers could use a compelling, large-scale case study in which a large fraction of the reform agenda was implemented and there is clear evidence of broad, dramatic success.  I think Florida provides this.


The first half of the attached presentation show the enormous gains Florida has made, starting as reforms began to be implemented in 1999 and continuing to this day.  The numbers really are SPECTACULAR: both NAEP and state FCAT scores skyrocketed, graduation rates jumped AND remediation rates fell, AP exams taken and passed soared, the number of schools rated A or B went up 4x while the number rated D or F fell 73% – and, best of all, the largest gains were among low-income, black and Hispanic students.


The second half of the presentation highlights all of the elements of the reform agenda that drove this change: grading schools; money to schools and directly to principals and teachers to reward success; allowing parents to opt out of chronically failing schools; ending social promotion after 3rd grade; raising high school graduation requirements; setting up alternative routes to teacher certification; reforming teacher evaluations and tenure; tying evals to teacher pay; eliminating LIFO; requiring mutual content (i.e., principals must approve any teacher transfers into their school); pre-and finally, the full gamut of choice: various tax credit scholarships, charter schools, vouchers for pre-kindergarten, and virtual education.

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