At the Florida House Innovation hearing a couple of weeks ago, Commissioner Stewart said that Florida ranked in the top ten in achievement scores. This is a stretch. Try 11th in fourth grade reading and 33nd in eighth grade reading. It is worse in mathematics.
The comparisons of Florida on the National Achievement of Education Progress (NAEP) average scores are reported below along with the achievement gains in scores from 2003-2015.
- Nationally Florida is 11th in grade four reading and 19th in math on NAEP, but it is one of the relatively few states that has mandatory third grade retention based on state assessment scores. Retention of third graders creates a temporary inflation in scores for fourth graders. Fourth grade NAEP scores diminish by eighth grade.
- Florida’s ranking in 8th grade reading drops to 33nd. Math is 43rd. nationwide.
Compare: Florida Nation Rank
Math……. 243… 200… 19
Reading.. 227… 221… 11
Math……. 275… 281… 43
Reading.. 263… 264… 33
COMPARISONS WITH LARGE ‘MEGA’ STATES
The Florida DOE does compare Florida’s NAEP scores to the nation and to other large states like California, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio and Texas. Of these so-called mega states, only California, Ohio and Florida have mandatory third grade retention. Note the drop in Florida’s percentage of students scoring at or above proficient in achievement rankings between fourth and eighth grade. The gain in the percentages of students scoring at or above proficient between 2003-15 is included in the report.
- All of the mega states except California out perform Florida in 8th grade mathematics. In reading, California and Texas have lower scores than Florida, but Florida also has a below average percentage of students scoring at or above the proficiency level.
- Florida’s 8th grade achievement gains in reading were less than all other large states except New York. California and Pennsylvania had large reading gains. The only large state to have large achievement gains in mathematics was Texas. Florida had significantly lower gains than most large states.
Education Week reports Quality Indicators that combine a number of ratings. If the National Assessment score rankings in grade 4 and 8 are used, Florida’s quality indicator is a C-, according to the latest Education Week report.
The bottom line is:
- Large states with large minority and low income populations do not perform as well as other states.
- Eighth grade scores are better indicators of achievement than are fourth grade scores due to differences in states’ retention policies.
- Florida ranks near the bottom in achievement gains. Wish it were different. Florida cannot improve achievement if it does not even recognize the problem it has.