Contact: Jaryn Emhof
Florida’s Education Weather Report: Results Pouring In As More Reports are Released, Florida is Proof Positive Reform Works
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s track record of bold education reform and student achievement gains is frequently cited as an example for states looking to transform and improve their education models. While the road to reform is often challenging and uncomfortable, the Sunshine State continues to show the results are worth it. As the new school year begins, recently released reports demonstrate Florida’s leadership in teacher effectiveness policies, participation and scores among ACT-takers, and steady learning gains for Tax Credit Scholarship recipients. “Florida is an example of putting student success before the comfort of the status quo,” said Patricia Levesque, executive director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future. “Improvements don’t happen overnight, but we continue to see the fruits of Florida’s long-term transformation into a model for higher standards, accountability and options to help each and every child reach his or her God-given potential. We have a ways to go, but we should also remind ourselves of how far we’ve come. The data is there, further demonstrating that Florida’s reforms work.”
Florida’s Teacher Effectiveness Laws Improve Quality of Education Bellwether Education Partners released a report this week entitled “Recent State Action on Teacher Effectiveness: What’s in State Law and Regulations.” It recognized Florida among states that enacted key policy conditions for fostering a more performance-oriented culture in public education, improving the quality of teaching, and increasing student access to effective teachers.
Since 2010, 21 states have enacted legislation or regulations addressing teacher effectiveness. Bellwether identified 13 criteria on which each state’s efforts were evaluated, listing the Sunshine State as 3rd from the top based on the reforms Florida initiated through SB 736, which passed the Legislature in 2011. Florida earned its highest marks in areas such as student learning factored into teacher evaluations, dismissal of educators with consecutive years of poor performance, elimination of last in, first out (LIFO) policies that protect seniority over performance, and for compensation of effective teachers. According to the report, when it comes to rewarding effective teachers with increased compensation, “Florida’s and Indiana’s approaches seem most likely to drive fundamental change in teacher compensation.”
Florida Students’ ACT Scores Improve amid Higher Participation The 2012 ACT Condition of College & Career Readiness report was released nationally this month, and Florida – for the fifth year in a row – saw performance growth, notably under expanded participation. Florida increased the number of graduates taking the ACT while also increasing average scores in all subject areas of the test. According to the Florida Department of Education (DOE), while national scores either slightly decreased or remained unchanged, Florida saw small increases in every subject area and the overall composite score.
Florida’s minority students, which make up approximately 56.4 percent of the state’s ACT test takers, improved their scores across all subject areas from 2011 to 2012. African American students’ composite scores increased from 16.3 to 16.5, and Hispanic students’ from 18.3 to 18.6. The DOE also stated that over the past five years, Florida has experienced substantial growth in the number of minority students taking the ACT. African American test takers have increased by 26 percent, Hispanics by 45 percent, American Indians by 8 percent, and Asians by 15 percent.
Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Students Maintain Academic Gains Another report released this month showed students in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program are maintaining the academic gains they earned in the three previous years. Established in 2001, the program encourages contributions from corporate donors to non-profit scholarship funding organizations. Scholarships are then provided for eligible students from low-income families to attend a participating private school. In 2006, legislation was passed that required schools to administer a nationally norm-referenced test as a way to measure academic gains of students participating in the program – data is analyzed to determine the performance of students participating in the program with public school students.
As in previous years, program participants tend to come from lower-performing public schools before entering the program and to have been among the lowest-performing students in their prior school, regardless of the school’s performance level. According to the DOE, the typical student in the program scored at the 45th national percentile in reading and the 46th percentile in mathematics when compared with all students nationally regardless of income, about the same as in 2008-09 and 2009-10. The typical student participating in the program gained a year’s worth of learning in a year’s worth of time.
For more information on education reform in Florida and how the state continues to serve as an education model for the nation, visit www.aFloridaPromise.org. Links: 2. http://www.aFloridaPromise.org
# # # The Foundation for Florida’s Future, a public policy organization led by former Governor Jeb Bush, is advancing reforms to make education in Florida a model for the nation. Visit www.AFloridaPromise.org to learn more about the Foundation for Florida’s Future’s efforts to reform education for the 21st century.
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