Richard Corcoran: NAEP Results Show Florida Needs to Raise Expectations for Students

This week, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran weighed in on the results of this year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 4th and 8th grade reading and mathematics assessments–and he is not exactly happy with the Sunshine State’s grades.

“While Florida remains a leader at closing achievement gaps and Florida’s public charter school students are notably outpacing the nation’s students, the overall results illustrate that Florida has a long way to go before claiming victory for all of Florida’s students,” the Education Department noted.

“Today’s NAEP results make it very clear that unless we start raising expectations for students, we will continue to see stagnant growth. What we’ve learned after 20 years of reforms is that where expectations are flat, results are flat. This realization is why I want to applaud Governor DeSantis for reinvigorating a bold vision for success for every Florida student,” Corcoran said.

“I share Governor DeSantis’ vision to make Florida the Education State and make Florida number one in all metrics of student achievement. Florida’s NAEP results have relatively flat lined. We are #6 in 4th grade reading and #4 in 4th grade math,” Corcoran added. “If we are to be measured by how we lift up those with the most need, Florida must use these results to embrace the momentum that has been reasserted by Governor DeSantis. In 2019, Governor DeSantis restored a culture of being big and bold for all Florida students. They are counting on us. For if we are not bold and brave, then we deny our children equitable access to the beautiful lifelong opportunities that they all deserve.”

The Education Department also showcased other findings from NAEP.

“Florida students who are Black, Hispanic, have a disability, are English Language Learners or come from low-income families typically outperform their peers in comparison to their peers across the country. They frequently rank in the top 5 nationally,” the Education Department noted.

Charter schools in the Sunshine State earned high marks.

“Florida’s public charter schools, which serve 69 percent minority students and 53 percent low-income students statewide, have again answered the call to higher achievement. According to the 2019 NAEP results, if Florida’s 658 public charter schools and their 314,000 students were their own state, they would rank #2 in 4th grade reading, tied for #2 in 4th grade math, #1 in 8th grade reading and tied for #5 in 8th grade math,” the Education Department noted.  “Among the 27 large, urban school districts nationally that participated in the 2019 NAEP Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), Miami-Dade County Public Schools ranked #1 in 4th grade reading, Duval County Public Schools ranked #2 in 4th grade math, and Hillsborough County Public Schools ranked #3 in 4th grade reading.”

The Education Department also looked at the findings, stressing some positive aspects but also showcasing what schools across the state need to work on.

“On one hand, 70 percent of Florida students scored at or above NAEP’s basic level on 4th grade reading (#7 nationally), 87 percent on 4th grade math (#1 nationally), 72 percent on 8th grade reading (#30 nationally) and 66 percent on 8th grade math (#36 nationally).  However, Florida and the nation are moving backwards in nearly all of these results,” the Education Department insisted. “The reality is the gap between Florida’s top performing students and the bottom 25% of Florida’s students is widening. For example, Florida’s 8th grade reading scores dropped 3 points and our ranking remained #22.  However, the bottom 25 percent of Florida’s 8th grade reading students actually dropped 6 points, and the bottom 10 percent dropped 9 points.”

Noting that Gov. Ron DeSantis ended Common Core in Florida, the Education Department stressed the “NAEP results show that Common Core standards have not helped states make progress” and the “results speak for themselves, nationwide and in Florida.”


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