By Sara Inés Calderón
The Florida Board of Education voted to set different standards of reading and math achievement for students based on their race and ethnicity this month. There’s been controversy over the decision, which the Board is not budging on, but apparently the move was made in part because of No Child Left Behind.
The ultimate goal is to get white, Asian, black and Latino students up to grade level achievement by 2023; the proposed achievement for each ethnic group is a gradient to get them there. According to The New York Times:
The goals are calculated as part of a waiver granted by the federal government under its No Child Left Behind law. Florida is one of several states required to cut its achievement gap in half for all students by 2018, including those who are black, Hispanic, white, Asian, low-income, disabled or speak English as a second language.
The number of ill-prepared students in Florida remains troubling, as do the differences by race and ethnicity: 38 percent of black students currently read at grade level. That compares with 53 percent of Hispanics, 69 percent of whites and 76 percent of Asians.
Florida’s plan calls for the following gains by 2018: 90% of Asian students to be at or above grade level reading, 88% of whites, 81% of Latinos and 74% of blacks. For math these numbers are: 92% Asians scoring at or above grade level, 86% of whites, 80% of Latinos and 74% of blacks.
Which is to say, Florida is not investing time or resources to get Latinos and blacks in particular, but even whites, to a 90%-plus level on the basics of reading and math. Officials say these levels are an improvement over current levels and not meant to be discriminatory, but that’s kind of a tough pill to swallow, especially in a state with a booming Latino population.