Another Republican Touts the Florida Education Way; Meanwhile Another Report Shows Why They’re Wrong


Former House Speaker Dean Cannon (R-Winter Park) became the second power republican legislator to celebrate Florida’s test-dominated education system. Cannon takes to the pages of the Orlando Sentinel this morning:

Florida received some good news recently. Education Week reports that Florida’s African-American and Hispanic students are more likely to graduate from high school than their peers in other states.

The 2012 “Diplomas Count” report compared Florida to the rest of the nation and found that our Hispanic graduates beat the national graduation-rate average by 10 percentage points. African-American students exceed the average by 3.5 points. In fact, Florida places third in the nation for the largest increases in graduation rates of all students over the past 10 years, jumping from 52.5 percent in 1999 to 70.4 percent a decade later, in 2009

How did this happen? Committed teachers, principals and parents. Students who work hard. And yes, the FCAT.

While Cannon says that, “before FCAT, we had fewer graduates and higher dropout rates,”he doesn’t say how FCAT did so aside from a breezy “raise the bar” throw away. It’s a slight improvement in rhetoric to at least grudgingly give credit to “teachers, principles and parents,” but Cannon spends more time talking about data than other measures that Florida had in place such as  reading programs, class size limits and serious ESOL training.

While Cannon’s point that there’s significant increase in the number of African-American and Hispanic kids who graduate is reason to be happy,  real interventions – and FCAT played a far greater role. Still, Cannon’s not telling the whole story and in another part of the Sentinel this morning reveals why:

The number of young Floridians with a college degree fell in 2010 to about 817,000 — a decrease of about 19,000 from 2009, according to new estimates.

The Florida drop runs counter to a national uptick in college-educated Americans that the Obama administration plans to tout when the nation’s governors gather in Virginia later this week. In 2010, 15.9 million Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 had a college degree, a bump of about 100,000 from the year before.

Such a subtle outlier represents students and not test scores. So do the 55 percent of Florida college freshmen who need remediation in reading, writing or math when they arrive. Moreover, both the college grad and remediation rates suggest that a disturbing number of Florida HS grads are utilizing online credit recovery programs, none of which come close to providing the sort of rigor which prepares them for  post secondary work.

Floridians are quickly finding out that a one day test which essentially compares this year’s apples to last year’s oranges only suits the interest of politicians like Cannon in keeping  power in Tallahassee. Nevermind whether or not Florida’s students are benefiting.

About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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