Last night I was up way too late checking Twitter when I noticed a tweet from Florida’s education department.
Great News, Florida! Quality Counts has ranked Florida 4th in the nation for K-12 student achievement! We are so proud of the work our educators and students are doing in the classroom. 😁📚 #FLedu
Find out more: https://t.co/EZJG6TrANj pic.twitter.com/vt27EBdGcf
— FL Dept of Education (@EducationFL) September 6, 2018
The fact that Florida is fourth in the nation is indeed great news, but what makes it even better is that our schools have climbed up from 11th place compared to last year’s Quality Counts Report put out by Education Week.
Researchers look at how many students are meeting grade-level standards, how much progress students are making toward the standards. They also gague whether the gap between students from poor families and everyone else is closing, how many students are taking Advanced Placement classes, how many are graduating high school etc.
Florida’s Education Commissioner, Pam Stewart, credits high-quality instruction (thank you hard-working teachers and principals), strong accountability, and the fact that “Governor Scott has invested record funding in education to ensure every Florida student has access to the world-class education they deserve.”
Just a few months ago I wrote about how Florida was the only state to see students improve significantly in 4th grade math, and 8th grade reading and math according to the Nation’s Report Card. The only state!
So this just adds to the narrative that things are getting better for kids in the Sunshine State. Is there still a lot of work to do? You better believe it! It bothers me that we still have less than half of fourth graders reading at grade level, and less than a third of 8th graders proficient in 8th grade math.
But the naysayers, like gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, who say reform has failed can’t deny the successes our schools are having here.
Making big systemic changes like this take time and consistency and Florida is putting in the work. We’ve backslid somewhat, but we still have one of the best accountability systems in the country and we’ve had it in place since Governor Jeb Bush set it up in the ’90s. Florida’s also pretty good at giving kids options though, the resistance is increasing.
We should acknowledge the challenges and the areas where schools are falling short, but we should also celebrate the successes we’re having. Because if we can’t do both, we can’t move forward.