Monday, December 17, 2012

Florida Scores Well on PIRLS, TIMSS Tests After Reforms

Florida did very well on the new tests, which prompted Andy Rotherham to ask former FL governor Jeb Bush about this:

Mean PIRLS! Jeb Bush On Florida’s School Reforms (And Affirmative Action)

New PIRLS (reading) and TIMSS (math and science) international test score data out.  Florida’s performance on PIRLS is getting a lot of attention – the state participated as if it were a country and scored basically at the top and performed well across multiple dimensions.  It’s an interesting outcome given that Florida has done many of the things you’re “not” (in the educationally politically correct sense) supposed to do – labeling low-performing schools, tough accountability, expanding choice, and so forth. Other states popped up as well.

I recently interviewed former two-term Florida governor Jeb Bush about education (you can read much of the interview via TIME here) and asked him about Florida specifically and here’s what he said:
Federal data and independent analyses credit your Florida reforms with improvements, what worked? Why?

There was no single magic bullet. Robust accountability, higher standards, tying financial consequences and benefits, carrots and sticks, around accountability so there was a consequence between failure, mediocrity, improvement and excellence. Elimination of social promotion and strategies to deal with the crisis that could have existed if we’d done nothing [else].  Ambitious school choice, not just public but including private school choice. Expanding higher quality coursework to larger numbers of kids. So it wasn’t just accountability it was a lot of other things including a partnership with the College Board where we had stratospheric increases in the number of kids who took AP courses and passed them.  And the early learning component of what we did will prove to be pretty effective.  You put these hard-edged measures, we tried to make them really tough, but we didn’t stop there.

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