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Florida’s Student Achievement Goals Met with Controversy
posted by: Ruthie | October 22, 2012, 10:56 PM   

Florida's controversial, new race-based student achievement goals continue to spark debate across the nation. The heated debate raises the question – how should student achievement goals be broken down?


The Florida State Board of Education set proficiency goals for students across the state, breaking them into racial categories. The goals for reading proficiency by 2018 are as follows: American Indians - 82 percent; Asians - 90 percent; Whites - 88 percent; Hispanics - 81 percent; and, Blacks - 74 percent. For math, the goals for proficiency are: American Indians - 81 percent; Asians - 92 percent; Whites - 86 percent; Hispanics - 80 percent; and, Blacks - 74 percent.

These race-based student achievement goals were mandated by the Department of Education in accordance with the No Child Left Behind law. Federal officials also required that goals be set for five racial or ethnic categories, and three groups of children who typically lag on state tests – those that live in low-income families, those with disabilities, and those still learning English.

 Many critics feel like the categories based on race are "a step back into a disturbing history," as Orange County Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said. Fund Education Now, an Orlando-based advocacy group, criticized the goals for their "overtly racist tones," in a letter to the Department of Education.

"We're talking about an enormous number of children that the Florida Board of Education views as an acceptable loss. The Board's plan makes race and data more important than human beings. What parent is going to stand for that?" added Christine Bramuchi, one of Fund Education Now's founders.

As a black mother, Amy Wilkins, vice president of the Washington, D.C. based advocacy group, The Education Trust, understands how the race-based goals can cause discomfort. However, she argues, "The goals are broken down by groups because broader looks at data don't always pinpoint the problems. The unexamined thing is unattended to. We don't solve problems by hiding them."

Governor Rick Scott responded that the intention of the school board was simply to break down goals into measurable categories, allowing them to set mid points on the path to proficiency. He criticized the State Board of Education for failing to "clearly" articulate the "shared commitment to fully close that achievement gap for all students, regardless of race, geography, gender or other circumstance."

While it is reasonable to dissect goals into measurable categories so that resources are used effectively, professional educators should always strive to teach every student as if he or she has full potential.

Do you find categorical data helpful in measuring student success? 

Comment below. 


Comments (1)Add Comment
written by rick santiago, October 28, 2012

The problem is that teachers in florida have no raises and there is no parent accountability. They have doubled the amount of work for teachers and have frustrated them with an unfair evaluation system that apparently is not a get you deal. Soit is not attractive anymore and teachers are willing to quit their jobs

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