MA & FL should get together to drive ed reform in US

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I often say two things in different ways:
(1) MA is #1 on the Nation’s Report Card and in the top 6 “countries” internationally on math and science – yadayadayada.
(2) The feds don’t know their &ss from their elbows on education. Not their fault but they are too far away to do anything useful. Name one great reform USDOE has put in place since its creation in the 70s…

… still waiting…

Yeah, okay, let’s table that. As much as I like what MA has done, there are other states that are hard-charging on reform and have something to teach us. Matt Ladner points out that 64% of FL’s poor 4th grade students (free and reduced lunch) score basic or better in reading (MA = 61%). FL’s work to drive Hispanic student achievement has also been impressive. How’d they do it?

– Measurement & transparency (grading schools clearly using A-F scores rather than the wonderfully cryptic “underperforming” – isn’t that the sort of language Wall Street investors use for lousy investment portfolios?
– Rewards for student performance, including financial incentives to schools (mainly going to teacher bonuses) for improving students’ letter grades
– Consequences for school failure: scholarships for kids in schools that receive F grades
– Incentives to get students to strive for excellence: Free PSATs for all 10th graders, professional development and bonuses for teachers to teach Advanced Placement and get kids to succeed in the AP classes
– An end to social promotion: Students who score the lowest level in reading on the 3rd grade FL standardized test must repeat 3rd grade (3rd grade being the gateway year for students either toward excellence or failure)
– Lots of choice, including virtual learning

These are the lessons we can and should learn. What we could give to FL is really high academic standards, which are aligned with teacher testing. Our students perform much better than FL’s overall, but they are making impressive gains in areas where we have demonstrated weakness.

On the feds?

… still waiting…

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