The witnesses yesterday spoke to the relative funding support for education in Florida vs. other states. While Florida’s funding is very low, the defendants argued that cost comparisons are not indicative of quality. They cited the Florida NAEP fourth grade reading scores that are slightly above the national average. What was not mentioned in the testimony is that about 12 states retain third graders based on their states’ assessment scores. Florida is one of those states. Thus, Florida’s fourth grade NAEP scores are likely to be elevated compared to other states. Florida retains approximately 20% of third graders. In addition, Florida has one of the highest percentage of students with tax credit scholarships whose scores are not included in the NAEP assessment. These FTC scholarships are need based and would include a high percentage of low scoring students from public schools.
The second witness discussed the academic deficiencies of homeless students. The percentage of homeless in Florida is increasing, and these students do less well than students from low income families who have homes.
This morning, Professor Smith from UCF discussed the Florida DOE comparisons of traditional and charter schools. The DOE reported raw results in which charter students tended to score higher than traditional public school students. When scores were adjusted statistically for the percentages of free and reduced lunch and minority students, based on school scores, charter school students scored somewhat lower than public school students. This comparison also revealed that charter schools had relatively fewer students with FRL and minority status which accounts for the decrease in adjusted scores for charters. Bottom line, charter schools do not out perform traditional public schools.
I had to sign off when the cross examination began. More later