Sunshine State

Matt Ladner is fired-up over Florida’s NAEP performance in the new data.

20 Replies to “Sunshine State”

  1. Jesus, Andy, stop being so credulous. As Walt Haney at Boston College demonstrated in his analysis of the 2004-05 Florida and national NAEP data, the reason Florida has such a “great” NAEP performance in 4th grade is that the state flunks an unusually high number of students in 3rd grade, and those students are disproportionately Black and Hispanic (thus accounting for the alleged narrowing of the achievement gap). I’m assuming FL hasn’t backed off that policy recently. So not only are these gains illusory, the gains are linked to a policy (retention) that harms kids and increases the likelihood of dropping out.

    Stop being lazy, Andy.

  2. KN-

    Haney’s argument is out of date:

    Short story: Florida’s gains began before the retention policy began, improving almost a grade level between 1998 and 2002. Since the imposition of the retention policy, both the number of kids scoring low enough to merit retention and the number of kids retained dropped by 40%.

    If the retention policy played the role imagined by Professor Haney, Florida’s NAEP scores should have strongly spiked in the middle of the decade, but then dropped. Instead, they steadily continued to improve, even after the number of retentions fell sharply.

    Florida also saw very strong gains among all the disadvantaged student subgroups in 8th grade reading this year.

  3. Florida’s Hispanic population is largely Cuban. The migrant population of children has dwindled gradually due to changes in agriculture hiring practices. Cubans arrived in progressively smaller waves. The child next door to me is third generation Cuban-American and his grandparents were second wave. From what I know of immigrant scores from Canadian PISA scores, we can expect immigrant population enculturation. It has been close to fifty years. Saying demography isn’t destiny is a bit odd. I thought income was part of demographics. If that is so, demographics *is* destiny for those caught at the lowest rungs of income. Recent research indicates that the stress of being desperately poor is a major cause that drives epigenetic alterations in children’s bodies.

    What is there to be excited about? All we can do is assign schools the task of solving problems they can’t affect or ones that may not exist.

  4. Bob-

    I get the magic Cuban theory quite a bit out here in Arizona. The problem is that Florida’s Hispanic population is less Cuban today than it was in 1998, and those Hispanics were scoring much lower than Hispanics are today. In addition, you need a magic Haitian and a magic White boy story to go along with it, because everyone’s scores have risen.

    Florida’s Free and Reduced lunch eligible students are outscoring several statewide averages for all students in both 4th and 8th grade reading. That is worth getting exciting about.

  5. Haitian immigration has continued at a fairly constant rate over the last twenty years or so after the initial wave. The first immigrants were largely well-educated and now those people have a smaller representation. Native Floridians have a tendency to move away. Frankly I don’t think you can say anything about Florida that depends on demographic stability over more than ten years. Unless of course you are looking at the anti-evolution Southern Baptist communities in North and central parts of the state.

    It is going to be interesting to see if the stress on families experienced during the recent economic troubles will result in reversing the gains at least to some extent.

    I don’t think anybody in the state capitol has heard about the reading scores since they feel strongly that unions and incompetence are still endemic. We are looking at larger classes and fewer teachers with lower pay rates who are paid on the basis of student scores with this week’s bill.

  6. Bob-

    I agree that the demographics of Florida are complex and changing. The percentage of FRL eligible kids has increased since the reforms were put in place, and the percent of students who are minorities has increased. While I agree that some generational effects are almost certainly at play as you suggest, it does not seem likely to in the aggregate Florida’s demographics have become less challenging.

  7. I am thrilled to see new people reminding Mr Ladner of his incomplete reporting of the Florida statistics and accompanying factors.
    I used to do the same . Beware of half-truths. Politics is not education. Research Florida’s scores for yourself.

  8. Here’s a summary of what Florida is to change to:
    School systems to evaluate and pay teachers primarily on the basis of student test scores.
    School systems to ignore a teacher’s experience, advanced degrees or professional credentials in any evaluation or pay.
    School systems to put newly hired teachers on probation for five years and then give them annual contracts for the rest of their careers.
    The creation of more standardized tests for students, to cover subjects not already assessed.

  9. HIgh school grades are already different from the original manner.
    When our state’s reading scores for grade 3 reading were inflated years ago, an investigation was condicted by the BUROS Institute suggesting it unwise tro attach high stakes to a single indicator. That situation remains in our elementary and middle schools still. Could it be due to political and public relation gains at the price of student learning? Doesm’t Mr. Ladner have his background in political science? Research Florida’s ACT and SAT scores, how it fares in dropouts, and all pending lawsuits. Here is a recent legislative update as well.

  10. Mr. Ladner fails to address our FCAT results and frequently omits the third grade retention policy which skews our grade four population. Comparing filtered groups to unfiltered groups seems an odd comparison to me.He is also in receipt of studies that show the system to fail to measure
    the intended entity.

  11. Also- Dan Lips and I took on the “3rd grade retention is driving the Florida scores” myth in Education Next:

    Short story: Florida’s scores improved by about a grade level before the retention policy went into place, the number of children retained has dropped by 40% since the first year. Despite that fact, Florida’s scores rather than spiking then declining, have continued to surge.

    Bottom line, the retention policy was designed to teach kids how to read, and it worked.

  12. <ihave continued to surge.

    Then why this push by former Gov Bush for education “reform”?
    Reform for reform’s sake?
    Justification for the existence of professional educational “reformers”?

  13. Ed-

    Despite the improvement, 27 percent of Florida 4th graders still score below basic on 4th grade reading. Florida’s reformers are out to get that number as close to zero as possible.

  14. Thank you Matt.
    How close to zero will the reformers get it and by when?
    2 years?
    5 years? (the latter seems more reasonable because the 4th graders five years from now will have been in the “reformed” public school system all the days of their (school) lives.
    Have I got that right?)

  15. Mr. Ladner neglects to add the research that shows retention gains are short lived and retentions correlate to dropping out. Interestingly,
    Florida is among the leaders of the nation in dropout rates. On a simple basis, if you remove the low scprers from a pool via retention a prior grade, they are not available for selection. Your compariosn
    groups differ when you compare one group with low scorers to one where they are included.
    When will the studies of the flaws in the A+ Plan be addressed ? I am very much interested in Ms. Ravitch’s first paragraph in her Ed Week article about accountabiity hoaxes and persons being oblivious to them.

  16. Florida’s grade 12 NAEP scores were below average in both Reading and Math. Will Mr. Ladner be writing about this? I certaily failed to hear it addressed when I saw him in DC. Three of eleven states held this dubious distinction. HMMMM.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.