Ron DeSantis: Florida Students Excelled in NAEP Scores Thanks to Opening Schools Quickly in Pandemic

This week. Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the results of the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The governor’s office insisted the results show that keeping kids in school throughout 2020 and 2021 has put Florida students well ahead of their peers, especially with younger and educationally at-risk students who were harmed the most from distance-learning in other states.

In 2022, Florida’s 4th and 8th grade students earned the state’s highest ever rankings in each assessment and demonstrated historic achievement gap closure for at-risk students at all levels. Florida’s Hispanic students, black students, and students with disabilities all scored in the top 10 in every category.

NAEP assessments are the only assessment taken consistently across the nation and therefore serve as the nation’s report card. Last administered in 2019, the NAEP is administered every two years, although the 2021 assessments were delayed to 2022.

“We insisted on keeping schools open and guaranteed in-person learning in 2020 because we knew there would be widespread harm to our students if students were locked out. Today’s results once again prove that we made the right decision,” said DeSantis. “We also knew that younger and at-risk students would be the most impacted if schools were closed, and the results speak for themselves. In Florida our 4th grade students rank #3 in Reading and #4 in Math, achieving top 4 in both English and Math for the first time in state history, while lockdown California and New York aren’t even in the top 30.”

“If we are meant to measure our impact by how we elevate our young generation, especially those most at-risk, Florida is clearly the #1 state in the nation in elevating its young people,” said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “Florida’s Hispanic and black students, students with unique abilities, and students on free and reduced price lunch massively narrowed achievement gaps and proved the value of being in school in a classroom with their peers and learning in-person from Florida’s world-class teachers.”

Overall, the nation’s NAEP results show a national decline in Reading and Mathematics for 9-year-old students (Grade 4) and America’s most vulnerable students. In many states, this decline was due to government-imposed lockdowns and school closures. Florida avoided widespread learning losses and Florida’s students are far exceeding the nation’s expectations.

While Florida boasts historic rankings in all four NAEP tests, Florida’s achievement gap closures were profound across the board upon closer inspection, and these results are a clear indication that Florida’s strategy to focus its recovery on early grades and at-risk students paid off:

Florida is in the top 5 for average scale scores of Hispanic students across all grades and subjects
o Grade 4 Reading – #1 (maintaining this rank since 2013)
o Grade 4 Mathematics – #2 (same as 2019)
o Grade 8 Reading – #1 (up from number 2 in 2019)
o Grade 8 Mathematics – #4 (up from 5 in 2019)

Florida is in the top 5 for average scale scores of students with disabilities across all grades and subjects
o Grade 4 Reading – #1 (up from number 2 in 2019)
o Grade 4 Mathematics – #1 (third time in a row)
o Grade 8 Reading – #2 (same as 2019)
o Grade 8 Mathematics – #4 (same since 2017)

Florida is in the top 10 for average scale scores of black students across all grades and subjects:
o Grade 4 Reading – #3 (up from 4 in 2019)
o Grade 4 Mathematics – #2 (same as 2019)
o Grade 8 Reading – #4 (up from 6 in 2019)
o Grade 8 Mathematics – #8 (up from 17 in 2019)

Students on Free and Reduced Lunch are ranked in the top 10 for average scale scores in three of four tests and improved massively on the fourth:
o Grade 4 Reading – #1 (same as 2019)
o Grade 4 Mathematics – #1 (third time in a row)
o Grade 8 Reading – #6 (down from 5 in 2019)
o Grade 8 Mathematics – #17 (up from 25 in 2019)

Florida boasts the narrowest achievement gap between students with disabilities and students without disabilities in all grades and subjects.

Florida’s achievement gap between Hispanic and white students is the narrowest in the nation in Grade 8 Reading.

All of Florida’s subgroups significantly outperformed their national peers in Grade 4 Reading.

Grade and subject highlights include:

Grade 4 Reading

3rd in the nation in average scale score — up from 6th in 2019
Moved ahead of New Jersey, Utah, and Colorado from 2019.

While Florida’s Grade 4 Reading Average Scale Score remained constant from 2019 to 2022, average scale scores actually increased for several Florida subgroups:
o Hispanic students increased 1 point on average scale score.
o Asian/Pacific Islander students increased 4 points on average scale score.
o Students with disabilities increased 3 points on average scale score.
o English language learners increased 3 points on average scale score.
Florida is the highest performing large state; Pennsylvania is 9th; California is 32nd; Texas is 33rd; and New York is 36th

Average Scale Score National Ranks for Grade 4 Reading Among Florida Subgroups
Black students are third nationally, up from fourth in 2019.
Hispanic students maintained their number one rank.
White students placed fourth nationally, up from ninth in 2019.
Free/reduced lunch students maintained first place ranking from 2019.
Students with disabilities ranked first, up from second in 2019.

Grade 4 Mathematics
Fourth in the nation in average scale score.
Only two points below the number one state in nation.
Florida is the highest performing large state; Texas is 14th; Pennsylvania is 17th; California is 38th; and New York is 46th

Average Scale Score National Ranks for Grade 4 Mathematics Among Florida Subgroups
White, black, and Hispanic students ranked second in the nation.
Free/reduced lunch students rank first in the nation for the third time in a row.
Students with disabilities rank first for the third time in a row.

Grade 8 Reading
21st in the nation in average scale score, up from 22nd in 2019.
Among the largest states, Florida outperformed Pennsylvania (26th); California (29th); and Texas (41st).

Average Scale Score National Ranks for Grade 8 Reading Among Florida Subgroups
Black students ranked fourth nationally, up from sixth in 2019.
Hispanic students ranked first nationally, up from second in 2019.
Students with disabilities maintained second place ranking.

Grade 8 Mathematics
32nd in the nation in average scale score, up from 35th in 2019.
Florida’s highest ever ranking in this category.

Average Scale Score National Ranks for Grade 8 Mathematics Among Florida Subgroups
Black students ranked eighth nationally, up from 17th in 2019.
Hispanic students ranked fourth nationally, up from fifth in 2019.
Free/reduced lunch students ranked 17th nationally, up from 25th in 2019.
Students with disabilities maintained fourth place ranking.

NAEP is a congressionally mandated program that is overseen and administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. Results are available for the nation, states, and 27 urban districts, and are used to provide critical information about student achievement and data for improving educational practices. The current NAEP assessments were scheduled for 2021 but were postponed one year due to the pandemic. The next NAEP results will be reported in 2024.

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