MIAMI — When the Florida Board of Education voted this month to set different goals for student achievement in reading and math by race and ethnicity, among other guidelines, the move was widely criticized as discriminatory and harmful to blacks and Hispanics.
But the state, which has been required to categorize achievement by racial, ethnic and other groups to the federal government for more than 10 years, intends to stand by its new strategic plan. Education officials say the targets, set for 2018, have been largely misunderstood.
The end goal, they say, is that all students will be reading and doing math at grade level by 2023; the six-year goal is an interim step.
The goals are calculated as part of a waiver granted by the federal government under its

Community leaders worried about Florida's new race-based education goals

New benchmarks approved by the Florida State Board of Education to help close the racial achievement gap has community leaders worried about stereotyping.
The Sunshine State's BOE set the guidelines for K-12 students in math and reading Tuesday. While all students face the same finish line in the future, a lower percentage of Hispanics and blacks are expected to be at or above grade level in reading or writing than whites and Asians in five years.
"It's, what do they say? 'Soft bigotry of low expectations," said Hilary Shelton, Washington Bureau director of the NAACP, referring to a phrase coined by former President George W. Bush several years ago. "They're really letting the educators off the hook playing it this way. We have to challenge our educators to meet the standards of every child."
Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart called the criticism over the new guidelines a "growing misconception" about a plan that will help Florida achieve a 

The Virginia Dept. of Education annual math objectives, as listed in VDOE news release.