Student Achievement Gap
Q. In October, Florida’s Department of Education unanimously passed a strategic education plan that outlined race-based student performance targets for the next 6 years. Does the Foundation have a position on this plan? If so, what is the position, and what is (are) the reason(s) for its position? Would the Foundation suggest this plan be replicated in other states? Would the Foundation like to see this plan implemented on a national level?
A. Florida has a color-blind accountability system. All kids must pass the same tests with the same scores. Schools must focus on all students in the bottom quartile of test scores. We never required more or less of one group than another. That system remains in place. The strategic goal plan adopted by the State Board recognizes that African-American and Hispanic children still lag far behind white and Asian children in reading and math proficiency. To close this gap, the state will require schools bring the African-American and Hispanic children up to proficiency at a much faster rate than the other groups. Right now, there is a 31 percent gap between black and white kids. By 2018, it would be a 14 percent gap, by 2022 the gap would be closed.
Q. Leading youth insights research firm TRU recently released a study that suggested that of the nearly 2,800 high school students surveyed, 36 percent of African American students said that they felt prepared for college while 30 percent of Hispanics, 28 percent of Caucasian students, and 27 percent of Asians also said they felt prepared for college. What suggestions does the Foundation have for ensuring that students are ready for college and feel more optimistic about their preparedness?
A. Well, the kids certainly seem to understand they’re not getting enough out of schools, even if the adults do not. Those percentages are pretty close to reality. Only about a third of kids graduating from high school are college or career ready. The solution is more rigorous academic standards and graduation requirements, enforced by end-of-course exams that ensure schools are teaching kids what they need to know… (continues)