Florida Once Again Outpaces Most Other States in K-12 Education

With the third and final installment of Education Week’s “Quality Counts” 2019 report out, Florida continues to rank in the top five states when it comes to K-12 student achievement.

Florida placed fourth in the latest rankings for the second year in a row. New Jersey topped the latest rankings.

“The annual report compares state-by-state data and trends related to achievement levels, achievement gains, poverty gap, achieving excellence, high school graduation and Advanced Placement,” the Florida Department of Education noted this week.

“Maintaining a top national ranking for student achievement for the second year in a row is a testament to our educators and students,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis this week. “The investments and policy changes we made this year in education will only continue to ensure our students’ success, regardless of income or zip code.”

Highlights of the Quality Counts 2019 report include:

  • Florida’s overall rank for the K-12 Achievement category remained fourth in the nation.
  • Florida’s achievement gap for low-income fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math students is tied for tenth lowest in the nation.
  • Florida is one of only eight states to reduce the achievement gap for both low-income fourth and eighth-graders since 2003.
  • Florida is ranked sixth for reducing the achievement gap for low-income students in both fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade mathematics.
  • Florida’s fourth-grade students are second in the nation for achievement gains in both reading and mathematics.
  • Florida’s eighth-grade students are third in the nation for achievement gains in reading.

“Florida’s students continue to succeed, as witnessed by Florida’s increasing graduation rate – up to 86.1 for the class of 2018. Florida students also continue to rank highly on AP exams, where Florida students are first among the 50 states in participation and third among the 50 states in performance. The fact remains – more students in Florida continue to enroll in and succeed in these rigorous accelerated programs,” the Florida Department of Education noted.

State Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran offered a tip of the cap to the governor.

“I am thankful to Governor DeSantis for his bold vision to make Florida first in the nation for education. During the 2019 legislative session, his leadership secured big wins for students, parents and teachers through policies that will change the educational landscape for decades to come. The fact that Florida has sustained its national ranking is a testament to our dedicated teachers who work tirelessly to make sure every student receives a top-notch education that prepares them for life’s opportunities,” Corcoran said.

Corcoran pointed to a record $21.84 billion in state and local funding, an increase of $782.9 million to the FEFP (Florida Education Finance Program, Florida’s key method to fund education)” and to a $75 per student increase to the Base Student Allocation (BSA) and a $242.60 per student increase to the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP), both the largest increases in years, as some of the actions DeSantis has taken to improve Florida’s schools.

Corcoran also noted the governor’s support of $423 million for a bonus program for high performing teachers, $10 million for educators to learn more about technology and teach computer science and $50 million over the next five years in a loan and tuition forgiveness program to recruit new teachers.

Still, the state Department of Education noted the state is going to need more teachers as Florida’s population continues to grow.

“Florida is going to need 8,500 news teachers to keep up with student growth over the next five years, in addition to those schools that already have critical shortages,” the Department noted.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

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