There is no doubt Florida has been bold with its education policies over the last 15 years, and we can all agree Florida’s students have made tremendous strides in this same time period. For this, we are all thankful and proud.
Now our state is facing a huge choice with respect to the way it measures and defines student subject-area proficiency.
If handled the wrong way, Florida will veer from its path of progress for all students. And the time to speak up about this problem is now!
The issue is how to set “cut scores”, which are the scores Florida education officials establish to define student proficiency on state-administered tests.
Currently, there is a troubling disconnect between what Florida defines as proficient and what the Nation’s Report Card and dozens of other states define as proficient.
The State of Florida is saying more students are proficient than what is being reported on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), considered the gold standard.
As a vivid example: recent comparisons of Florida’s 8th grade reading scores and these same students’ national test scores showed that 56% of Florida’s 8th graders scored proficient in reading on the state’s assessment, whereas only 33% of these same students tested proficient in reading upon completing the national assessment (NAEP).
This gap of 23 percentage points is troubling; it is strong evidence that Florida has had too low a bar on setting of proficiency standards.
If we don’t raise our proficiency expectations, many will see this as a continuance of widespread social promotion, where students move on from one grade to the next without mastering grade level material…only to find out later – taking remedial courses in college, being unprepared for workplace arithmetic, or not passing military entrance exams – that they were simply shuffled along throughout their public school years.
Entrenched special interests, bureaucrats, administrators, some politicians, and various other guardians of the system want to keep cut scores artificially low so the general public won’t get