Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Florida’s Reforms Working, Particularly for Minority Students

More on Florida's success:

Last year, Dan Lips and I demonstrated, in the pages of Education Next, that demography is not K-12 destiny. We cited the remarkable progress of disadvantaged students in Florida based on 1998-2007 NAEP data. NAEP has released the 2009 data, and the news for Florida just keeps getting better.

Education reform in Florida represents a tougher nut to crack than in Massachusetts or New Hampshire. Low-income students make up more than half the K-12 student body in Florida, with a "majority minority" ethnic mix. Florida spends below the national average on per-student funding.

Governor Jeb Bush pushed through a bracing dual strategy of accountability from both the top down (state testing) and bottom up (parental choice) in 1999. Governor Bush's A+ Plan emphasized standards for schools and transparency for parents. In addition, Florida embraced sensible education reforms such as alternative teacher certification, the curtailment of social promotion for students lacking basic literacy skills and the revamping of literacy instruction. Florida is also the nation's leader in virtual education.

Florida's choice strategy also included the creation of the nation's largest voucher program...

…Florida's reform record provides hope to a nation struggling to improve education and to close racial achievement gaps. Given the proper incentives, public schools can improve. Disadvantaged children can learn at levels previously thought reserved for the privileged. Demography need not become destiny.

To paraphrase Rob Reiner, when it comes to K-12 reform: I'll have what Florida is having!


Florida's Reforms Working, Particularly for Minority Students

By Guest Blogger Matthew Ladner   04/05/2010

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