Manual Demography Defeated: Florida’s K-12 Reforms and Their Lessons for the Nation

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RickSnyder signed a number of bills that also made far-reaching reforms to teacher tenure. Teachers who Lawmakers in other states, including Indianaand Tennessee, enacted significant teacher quali-ty legislation in as well.


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Care-fully balancing overall student proficiency withstudent learning gains, the A—F grading systemsubstantially improves public school transparen-cy while affording even the most miserably per-forming schools the opportunity to earn bettergrades by heavily weighting gains. The use of letter grades helps spur school im-provement for two broad reasons. First, manystates use fuzzy labels to describe school academ-ic performance. The second important aspect of the A—F sys-tem is that people instantly understand its scale. The act includesmodel language for grading schools A—F.

Federal K Funding - Education Writers Association

Charter School Movement Maintains MomentumIn fall , more than 5, charter schoolsaround the nation educated over 1. Florida lawmakers passed Senate Bill ,which created new charter-school authorizers andcreated a process for state recognition of high-per-forming charter schools and charter-school sys-tems.

Moreover, char-ter-management networks with sound financialpractices and high-performing schools are now em-powered to expand by opening new schools, un-less their district can prove they should be denied. Lawmakers lifted statewide caps on charterschools in several states, including Tennessee, NorthCarolina, and Oregon.

However, simply lifting acap on the authorization of new charter schoolscan prove to be a hollow victory if a single centralchokepoint for authorization remains. Instead, law-makers should be sure to both lift caps and to pro-vide multiple authorizers. While significant legisla-tion passed in a number of states, the most recentranking of state charter-school laws by the Centerfor Education reform gave only 12 charter laws anA or B grade, with only the first three listed earningan A: Washington D.

We address this exciting developmentin Chapter 5; for now, we simply note that charterschools are leading the way in developing thesenew learning models. The report rep-resents the culmination of the Digital LearningCouncil, and outlines 10 elements of high-quali-ty digital learning.

The Digital Learning Council,on which ALEC staff was represented, consistedof stakeholders across the education industry, in-cluding legislators, online providers, technologycompanies, and content providers. Beginning with ninth grade students enter-ing in fall , all Florida students will be re-quired to take an online course to graduate fromhigh school. The Digital Learning Now Act re-moved restrictions on the full-time participationof elementary students in online learning.

In ad-dition, the law allows students to cross districtlines to take virtual courses for courses otherwiseunavailable and clears the way for blended learn-ing models. The law also created a pathway fordistricts to certify qualified online teachers, andrequires state accountability testing to occur en-tirely online by the —15 school year. The law funds academic successrather than just seat time, has no participationcaps, and allows multiple public and private pro-viders. The program starts for public high schoolstudents in grades 9—12, then phases in home-school and private school students.

The Next StepsThe past two years however have been crucial,however, in demonstrating that reform is not onlynecessary but in fact achievable. In the past, gov-ernors gave lip service to education reform buttended to simply increase spending and kick thecan down the road. The — period wit-nessed something entirely different: lawmakerstaking on the reactionary education establish-ment directly, and defeating them repeatedly. States having passed reforms must move vig-orously to implementation, given the huge differ-ence between changing law and changing poli-cy and opportunities for subversion.

Reformersin other states should carefully study the com-prehensive approaches of Florida and Indianalawmakers. Dramatic improvement results frombroad, rather than incremental, reform. Lawmakers should heed Gov. Florida has done it, Indiana has enacted the nec-essary legislation, several other states have enact-ed some but not all of the necessary tools. Stillother states continue to wallow in stagnation,trapped in the tyranny of the failed status-quo.

Terry M. Moe and John E. Mitch Daniels, Creating First-Rate Education in Indiana. For more information, see: the Parents for Choice in Education website, available at www. Youinstantly grasp that the quality of elementary andsecondary education will prove crucial to youchances of success, and request time to researchstate-level academic results. The Powers gener-ously grant you a week to research the question. You quickly size up the profound differencesin the life outcomes between students who grad-uate and those who drop out of school.

Look-ing deeper, you find a study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that finds that literacy in thirdgrade—yes, third grade—strongly impacts thechances that a student will graduate from highschool. Based on a longitudinal analysis of read-ing scores and graduation rates of 3, studentsover ten years, students who could not read by theend of the third grade were four times more likelyto drop out of high school.

Florida to Examine Whether Alternative Charter Schools Underreport Dropouts

In fact, 88 percent ofstudents who failed to earn a high school diplomawere struggling readers in third grade. Casey analysis also found thatdifferences in reading achievement explain differ-ences in graduation rates between students of dif-ferent races and ethnicities. Proficient third gradereaders of all races—white, black, and Hispanic—graduate at similar rates. Eighty-nine percent of ec-onomically disadvantaged students in the study,who achieved proficient reading skills by the thirdgrade, graduated. Furthermore, your research in-forms you that 90 percent of welfare recipients arehigh school dropouts, 85 percent of kids in the ju-venile justice system are functionally illiterate, 75percent of food stamp recipients did not graduatefrom high school and 70 percent of prison inmatescannot read above a fourth-grade level.

You decide, quite sensibly, that you would pre-fer to avoid all of that in the next life. Your fran-tic searches across the internet for a comparableset of third grade reading achievement data com-paring states results in nothing.

The Big Picture - Demography: Advantage India

You do, however,discover the National Assessment of EducationalProgress NAEP has a great deal of informationon fourth-grade reading going back a number ofyears. You decide that this will be as close as youare going to get to the data you want, and begina frantic analysis of NAEP fourth-grade readingdata, searching for the best states to educate youto a proficient level of reading. Non-compliance with thesestandards creates doubt as to whether the resultsin those states are truly comparable to those inthe other states, so you decide to eliminate themfrom consideration.

Florida's progressive education reform a model for the nation – and Obama

You do not want to get some-thing as important as your next life wrong basedon testing imperfections! State Proficiency AchievementBased on IncomeYou begin your investigation by reasoning thatyou will either grow up in a low-income familyor not. The most recent Digest of Education Sta-tistics reveals that Your investigation in K—12 poli-cy informs you that wide variations in academ-ic outcomes exist between high and low incomestudents, and Because you are slightly morelikely to grow up in a family that earns too muchto qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch thanthe other way around, you start your investigationlooking for states that do a good job in educat-ing middle- and high-income students not eligi-ble for a free or reduced-price lunch to a profi-cient level of reading.

Your first run of the data fills you with unease:Growing up in a middle- to high-income familyfails to come close to guaranteeing that you willlearn to read in the early grades. Your squintingeyes refuse to tell you anything other than moststates rate around a coin flip regarding wheth-er their economically advantaged students learnto read at a proficient level. Many states rate sig-nificantly worse than a coin flip. Even the states at the high end of the scale Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts,Pennsylvania, and Vermont leave much to be de-sired for those even slightly risk averse.

Somehow,the fact that 43 percent of middle- to high-incomestudents in the very wealthy Connecticut failingto score at the Proficient level in reading seemsunsettling.


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What, you wonder to yourself, will thenumbers for low-income students look like? Afterall, it is almost as likely that you will be born asa child eligible for a free or reduced-price lunchas not.

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As you can see in Figure 5, your fears wereentirely justified. Students with DisabilitiesYour research indicates that These can be physical in nature like blindness or neurological. You decide to check the proficiencyprofiles of each state for children with disabilities. The results are frightening, to say the least. Massachusetts has 21 percent of their chil-dren with disabilities score proficient in reading. While very low, this rate is more than ten timesgreater than the lowest performer—the District ofColumbia, at a mere 2 percent.

Your research in-formed you that while some children with disabil-ities suffer from profound disabilities that wouldeffectively prohibit learning to even a basic level,but that these cases make up only a small portionof the total student population with disabilities. Your research further indicates that we are stuckwith these results despite what many school districtofficials describe as a crushing level of spending perstudent with a disability.

You read about run-away costs and a system more focused on bureau-cratic outcomes than student achievement. If you come back as alawmaker, you think to yourself, you would dosomething about this nightmare. You decide to emulate this strategy with re-gards to your early literacy strategy. Figure 7 pres-ents the percentage of general education non-ELL and non-IEP students scoring Proficient orbetter on the fourth-grade reading exam. Note the strong role that race and ethnicityplays in these rankings.

Nine out of the top tenstates have majority white-student populations. Only Florida has a majority-minority studentpopulation. Seven of the bottom ten performingjurisdictions have majority-minority student pop-ulations, with only Tennessee, West Virginia, andMichigan serving as exceptions. The two states consistently appearing in thetop 5 on these charts are Massachusetts and Flor-ida. Both states pursued reform strategies thatgenerated bitter opposition at the outset, but onesuspects that the experiences of both states con-tain lessons for reformers around the country, andindeed, even for each other.

One sign of the success of Massachusetts is tocompare their results to their New England neigh-bors. Vermont and New Hampshire fare well in theabove comparisons, but they are extremely smallstates with overwhelmingly white over 90 per-cent each and middle- and high-income students. Both states have student populations smaller than anumber of single school districts around the nation,making it difficult to generalize from their experi-ence.

We can, however, surmise that given the em-pirical evidence showing the existence of achieve-ment gaps on standardized tests across race andincome, being wealthy and overwhelmingly whiteand high-spending can come in handy in securing atop spot in comparisons such as these. Despite ourefforts here to examine student subgroups to max-imize comparability, it might be more applicable tocompare Vermont and Maine to the wealthy sub-urbs in other states than to other states as a whole.

Notice, however, what happens to anotherhigh-spending New England state—Connecti-cut—when faced with the challenge of educatinga sizeable population of low-income black stu-dents.