Florida Crushes the Ball on 2009 NAEP Reading

March 24, 2010

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The NAEP released reading scores for the 2009 Reading exams for both 4th and 8th grade. Florida once again crushed the ball in improving student performance. While the nation’s  4th grade reading scores remained flat, Florida’s scores surged ahead.

In 2007, Florida’s Hispanic students outscored 15 statewide averages for all students on 4th grade reading. Two years later, Florida Hispanics tied or outscored 30 statewide averages. Florida’s Hispanics scored 13 points higher than the statewide average for all students in Arizona in 2009, over a grade level worth of learning (10 points roughly equaling a grade level’s worth of learning).

Arizona had company. Florida’s Hispanic students also outscored or tied the statewide averages for all students in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Florida’s African American students also beat the statewide average for all students in Arizona by a nose. Statistically speaking, this is a tie, but extraordinary nevertheless. In 1998, the average Arizona student scored two grade levels higher than the average Florida African American. Florida’s African American students outscored or tied the statewide scores for eight states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and New Mexico.

Florida’s success in improving academic achievement for disadvantaged students should inspire the rest of the nation to action.  Importantly, Florida’s reading scores also improved markedly for 8th graders, including very large gains among all the disadvantaged student subgroups, including Hispanics, African Americans, students with disabilities and ELL students. More on that later. 

Congratulations to Florida students, teachers, school leaders and policymakers. Florida serves as a beacon to the rest of the nation, and should inspire us all to even greater reform efforts. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again now. When it comes to education reform…I’LL HAVE WHAT FLORIDA IS HAVING!

UPDATE: I left West Virginia off of the list of states which Florida’s Hispanic students outscore. West Virginia’s score for all students was 215, Florida’s Hispanics scored 223. So, make that 31 states for Florida Hispanic students!


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