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Explaining why Florida’s fourth graders outperform the nation.

It seems like quite juxtaposition that Florida’s fourth graders perform so well on the NAEP, the nation’s report card, while the other grades only do as well or lag behind their peers from around the nation. Actually since Florida fails many of its third graders it really makes sense.

Many of the fourth graders were two-year third graders or were forced to spend a summer remediating before promotion. In effect we are rigging the game in fourth grade by making sure the students as a group there have had significantly extra time to learn what the need to and that allows them to outperform their peers from around the nation.

I have agreed with very little of Florida’s accountability system over he last fifteen years but here I actually think this is good policy, not to fail kids that do poorly on one test, but to require extra remediation. Some of our children especially those mired in poverty need more time to learn and less time between grades so they don’t lose what they did.

Budget cuts statewide have practically eliminated or seriously reduced summer education something many of our kids could use. I think if we are going to be serious then we need to open up more summer school opportunities. 

Some people talk about burnout for both teachers and students alike but I think at least for teachers many of whom take summer jobs this is just a red herring to save money. As for students if done correctly where opportunities to have fun are mixed with opportunities to learn it can be very beneficial. Then when I was in high school a little over 20 years ago, every summer I took summer gym. I was able to earn an extra credit, get some exercise and it stopped me from running the streets unsupervised, what parent today would turn that down?   

So yes, the fourth graders in Florida are doing better than their peers nationwide but it is because we have rigged the game in order to allow them to do so but ultimately what does it matter if as a 12th grader they are lagging behind. 

1 comment:

  1. Since they made sure to flunk tenthgraders to the streets using the FCAT. Less boys left to even test in twelfth grade. So it is overall even worse.