Florida’s successful melding of challenging academic standards, rigorous assessments and a robust accountability system have resulted in record increases in student achievement – especially for struggling students.

Early Literacy

By the third grade, students must make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn. If they do not, they cannot do their coursework. Each year, as the grade level demands go up, students tend to fall further behind and become outsiders inside the classroom.

According to the Nation’s Report Card for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Florida fourth graders were more than a half-grade level behind their national peers in the 1990s. Now they are outperforming their national peers.


This is evidenced by the 2017 Nation’s Report Card for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) which found that 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.

 (Source: National Center for Education Statistics, NAEP, 2017)

Children who are not reading proficiently in third grade are four times more likely to drop out or fail to graduate from high school, according to a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. For low-income black and Hispanic students, that likelihood doubles.

Florida’s K-3 Reading policy was developed to ensure all students enter fourth grade with the strong literacy skills they will need to learn, graduate and succeed.

Education Funding

The way states fund student education can support forward-looking solutions or thwart progress with archaic and  obsolete constraints. In many states, outdated funding formulas force districts to focus on inputs rather than the unique needs of each child. On the other hand, student-centered funding formulas are fair, transparent and promote  local empowerment and choice.

Florida’s student-centered funding  prioritizes each child’s learning, where all students receive base funding—with additional amounts depending on student characteristics—and spending follows the child.

School Accountability

In 1999, Florida made the revolutionary decision to grade schools on an A-F scale just like students.

An A-F School Grading policy that measures what matters: overall student performance and progress, with extra focus on struggling students, and graduation rates and college and career readiness in high school.

School grades are calculated annually based on up to 11 components, including student achievement and learning gains on statewide, standardized assessments and high school graduation rate. School grading works by holding all schools to the same high expectations and clearly communicating the results to parents.

Statewide Highlights
  • The percentage of schools earning an “A” or “B” increased to 57 percent (1,834 schools), up from 46 percent (1,531 schools) in 2015-16.
  • Elementary schools saw the largest percentage point increase in “A” schools, with 30 percent (542 schools) of elementary schools earning an “A” in 2016-17, up from 21 percent (386 schools) in 2015-16.
  • A total of 1,589 schools maintained an “A” grade (660 schools) or increased their grade (929 schools) in 2016-17.
  • The number of “F” schools decreased by more than half (61 percent), dropping from 111 schools in 2015-16 to 43 schools in 2016-17.
Low-Performing Schools
  • 79 percent of schools that earned an “F” in 2015-16 improved by at least one letter grade in 2016-17.
  • 71 percent of schools that earned a “D” or “F” in 2015-16 improved by at least one letter grade in 2016-17.
  • 71 percent of the low-performing schools for which turnaround plans were presented before the State Board of Education in July 2016 improved to a C or greater.


To learn more, visit Florida Department of Education – School Grades.