NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 10, 2008

The 10-year impact of Florida's education reforms has had a remarkable effect on Florida's test scores, says the Goldwater Institute. 

  • Between 1992 and 1998, Florida's already low fourth-grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scores were declining.
  • By 1999, nearly half of fourth-graders scored "below basic" on the test.
  • But by 2007, less than a decade after the reforms were enacted, 70 percent of fourth-graders scored basic or above.

When broken down demographically, the true effect of these reforms can be seen, say researchers:

  • Florida's Hispanic students now have the second-highest statewide reading scores in the nation, and African-Americans score fourth-highest when compared with their peers.
  • In fact, the average Florida Hispanic student's score is higher than the overall average score for all students in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.
  • Moreover, Florida Hispanic students eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch under federal poverty guidelines also outscore the statewide averages of some of these states.
  • Florida's African-American students outscored two statewide averages for all students in 2007 and were within striking distance of several more.

Florida's success proves that demography is not destiny in K-12 education, with the right set of reforms, say researchers. 

Source: Dan Lips and Mathew Ladner, "Demography Defeated: Florida's K-12 Reforms and Their Lessons for the Nation," Goldwater Institute, Policy Report, No. 227, September 30, 2008.


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