The Florida Story encompasses a combination of reforms – rigorous academic standards, standardized measurement, data-based accountability, effective teaching, outcome-based funding and educational opportunity – to improve the quality of education for students in the Sunshine State.
Since the A+ Plan was launched in 1999, Florida has reversed a generation of decline in education. Measuring knowledge in reading and math annually from third to tenth grade, grading schools on a scale of A – F, ending social promotion for third graders who can’t read, funding strategies that create an incentive for success, rewarding teachers for demonstrating excellence in the classroom and an unprecedented array of educational choices for parents – these are the policies that have yielded an extraordinary turnaround in our schools.
The results are remarkable. In 1998, nearly half of Florida’s fourth graders were functionally illiterate.
Today, Florida is making progress, outperforming the national average in every subgroup on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 4th Grade Reading in 2017.
Florida students outperformed the national average in EVERY subgroup for fourth grade reading:
- Florida fourth graders outperform the national average by more than half a grade level.
- Students with disabilities perform better than their peers by two full grade levels.
- Low-income students outperform their peers by a grade level
- Hispanic students outperform their peers by one and a half grade levels.
- African American students outperform their peers by more than half a grade level.
Florida was the first state to implement comprehensive reforms. In recent years, a number of other states have followed Florida’s lead. Florida’s policymakers designed these reforms to strengthen the traditional public school system, offering parents the widest range of choice options to spur competition and innovation. The result has been a systematic transformation and dramatic improvement in students’ academic achievement. Florida’s success dispels common myths about education.
Poverty, an absence of parental involvement, language barriers, disabilities, broken homes, even catastrophic natural disasters like hurricanes, are not valid excuses for a lack of learning in the classroom.
The progress also proves all students can learn, all students should learn at least a year’s worth of knowledge in a year’s time, all students will achieve when schools are organized around the singular goal of learning and all students will excel when education is customized to maximize their strengths and overcome their weaknesses.