From Sunshine State News:
Bad news for Florida’s education system: Students in the Sunshine State who took international tests in math, reading and science last year did worse than other teens in the country and performed far worse than teenagers in the world’s top-performing education systems in Asia, according to Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores released Tuesday morning.
The PISA test is used to test 15-year-old students and see whether they can apply what they know to “real-life situations.” Florida was one of three states to pay $600,000 to participate in the international test. Connecticut and Massachusetts also participated in the test.
Michelle Rhee’s Florida mouthpiece somehow found a way to explain:
“While reforms are making a difference and we can all point to signs of progress we’ve made in Florida, the fact is, our students are not keeping up with the rest of the world in the classroom,” Nikki Lowery, director of (Rhee’s) StudentsFirst Florida, said in a written statement. “This report should motivate all of us to do better for our children – to intensify our focus and remember what’s at stake. We’re not getting to where we need to be fast enough and easing up on the gas pedal, or lowering the bar for our students won’t help them compete in the world they’re about to inherit.”
Meanwhile, the Jeb Bush camp sought to change the subject. Top policy advisor Matt Ladner was busy writing and showing that Florida is the only state in the country to show that it “had narrowed the White-Black achievement gap in all four subjects during the last decade. ” Ladner concludes in The EdFly Blog:
Florida achieved this progress on achievement gaps the best way possible: strong gains among White students, even stronger gains among Black students. The Florida reform cocktail has once again proven itself as a highly beneficial beverage.
Ladner is citing the test results of 8th graders – very close to the same sampling of 15 year-olds that PISA utilizes. He even seems to contradict himself in a post published the next day in redifinED with this:
……The long-term situation in Florida looks like this: despite the improvements of the last 15 years, Florida continues to educate only a minority of students to full grade level proficiency. Florida faces a huge increase in its K-12 population dwarfed only by the even larger increase in its elderly population, placing huge strains on future state finances.
It’s impossible to reconcile the differences in the statements from spokespersons representing Rhee and Bush. While the Rhee camp is saying “today’s (PISA) report shows our kids are falling behind,” the Bush camp is citing test data (NAEP) that shows “the Florida reform cocktail has once again proven itself as a highly beneficial beverage.”
The two education reform rock stars have built their empires on test data that’s paid for by taxpayers. Like two shysters caught with their hand in the cookie jar, they can’t get their stories straight.