New Student Achievement Goals Are Based on Race

By: Associated Press; Whitney Ray Email
By: Associated Press; Whitney Ray Email

Tallahassee, FL (AP) -- Gov. Rick Scott says an achievement gap in Florida's strategic plan for public schools is "unacceptable."

The governor on Tuesday issued a statement calling for the State Board of Education to more completely recognize the state's goal is to completely close the gap between minority and white students.

Board chairman Gary Chartrand also released a statement saying he asked the Department of Education to include a footnote in the plan. It will say the state's overall goal is 100 percent proficiency for all students.

But Chartrand noted the board had to acknowledge in the five-year plan that each ethnic group has a different starting point.

The plan calls for narrowing but not completely closing that gap for black and Hispanic students by the 2017-18 school year.

Tallahassee, FL - October 12, 2012 - The Florida Board of Education has set new goals for students based on their race. The board has a higher bar for Asian and white students, and sets less lofty goals for Hispanic and black students. Critics of the plan call the different standards demoralizing.

With this vote, the State Board of Education sealed a plan, laying out expectations for students based on their race.

"I'd just ask my fellow board members if we are happy with the signal that this sends?"

The board's strategic plan calls for 90 percent of Asian students and 88 percent of white students to be reading at grade level or higher by 2018. The bar is lower for Hispanic students at 81 percent and lower still at 74 percent for black students.

"It is demoralizing."
State Representative Alan Williams says the board needs to rethink its strategy.

"The Board of Education should probably go back to the drawing board as it relates to this and really get some more input from other constituencies."

"The goals weren't set haphazardly; they're actually based on an equation involving how different races of students are performing right now."

Sixty-nine percent of white students read at grade level, 53 percent of Hispanic students, and 38 percent of black students hit the mark.

In a one-on-one interview with Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, she told me only the six year plan has goals based on race. By 2022 the board wants all students at 100 percent proficiency in reading and math.

"The board very clearly has a goal that 100 percent of our students will be proficient. It is in our mission, vision statement and so when we look at that we have to look at where our students are right now."

Stewart also says students won't notice a difference in the classroom, but critics say the message alone promotes division.

The board didn't just set goals based on race. By 2018, the board wants large overall gains in math and reading. Right now only 57 percent of ALL Florida students read at their grade level and 58 percent are proficient in Math. The board is raising the bar to 83 percent for reading and 82 for math.

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