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
alarmed by falling passing rates or school grades. But giving students and schools artificially high passing grades for appearances’ sake does no favors for anyone in our state--except maybe some adults satisfied with the status quo!
Students’ futures are worth the temporary discomfort of lower scores, so that we can provide honest, transparent information sooner rather than later; having too low of a proficiency standard sets students up for failure.
Once these students leave our schools and enter college—our failure to set real-world expectations is quickly illustrated, as 65,000 Florida community college freshmen require remediation yearly for skills they should have mastered in high school.
This is unacceptable.
We must be honest up-front-- and set cut scores that align with nationally accepted levels!
Citizens are invited to contact the Florida Department of Education to advocate for alignment of state proficiency levels and national proficiency levels. FDOE is accepting comments now. Register your opinion by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
I was encouraged to hear several members of Florida’s State Board of Education recently advocate that the Florida DOE cut this proficiency gap between state and national tests.
Our neighbors in Georgia should be commended for recently setting cut scores on their own state assessments that produce closer alignment with national assessments.
Florida should do likewise------ because we owe it to our students to be honest with them!