Third-grade reading scores cast doubt on 'reforms'
ns of the so-called education reform movement that began in Florida more than 15 years ago have had several major developments to celebrate recently.
A Leon County Circuit judge ruled, in a lawsuit brought by an advocacy group, that the state is in compliance with a constitutional requirement that Florida provide a uniform, high-quality public education system.
And, in one of his first high-profile acts after dropping out of the presidential contest, former Gov. Jeb Bush has reclaimed chairmanship of his Foundation for Excellence in Education. The foundation has been a cheerleader for "accountability," which in Florida has taken the form of high-stakes testing, school grades, teacher evaluations and corporate vouchers.
The court ruling and Bush's resurfacing are cause for celebration indeed if you like Jeb's high-stakes testing model. However, we interrupt this celebration to bring you a harsh dose of reality concerning third-grade reading scores:
After all this "reform," a frightening number of children are not doing well.
You might think things are OK if you just glanced at last month's headline, "Third-grade students improve slightly on state reading exam."
Improvement is good, right? A lot of kids did well, right?
In Broward County, only 55 percent of third graders passed the reading exam by scoring at three or above. In Palm Beach County, 52 percent passed. In Miami-Dade County, the passing rate was 54 percent. Those numbers were up from 52 percent, 51 percent and 53 percent respectively.
The statewide passing rate was 54 percent. Which means that statewide, barely more than half of Florida's students are reading at grade level, as measured by this high-stakes test.
It's a high-stakes test because it has real consequences. Students who can't eke out at least a level two can be retained in the third grade. Think that's just a few? Think again. That's 23 percent of Broward third-graders, 25 percent in Palm Beach County and 24 percent in Miami-Dade.
Results released Friday showed that trouble passing reading exams persists when high Third-grade reading scores cast doubt on 'reforms' - Sun Sentinel: