Reducing the Achievement Gap
In recent years, Florida has dramatically improved education for minorities.


A few weeks ago, 2009 reading results were released for “The Nation’s Report Card” — the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. And the news was very good for Florida.

After a decade of K–12 education reform, Florida’s minority students — both Hispanics and blacks — have outscored the average student (minority and non-minority) in many other states. The state’s success puts it at the forefront of education reform, and proves that demography doesn’t have to determine a student’s destiny.

We can best illustrate Florida’s radical success with maps. This one illustrates how the nation’s Hispanic students are doing on the NAEP’s fourth-grade reading test. It highlights the states whose average scores are equal to or below the average score of Florida Hispanics:

Click image to enlarge

Note the large number of predominantly white states that are highlighted: Iowa, Oregon, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington, and Wyoming. Notice also North Carolina and Texas, two states whose leaders are proud of their K–12 reforms in the previous decade, and Tennessee, one of the two first-round finalists in the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition.

Today, on average, Florida Hispanics score the equivalent of almost two grade levels higher than their same-race peers around the country. On fourth-grade reading, the racial achievement gap between whites nationally and Hispanics in Florida has fallen by 76 percent since 1998.


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