Florida kids are writing better
Florida students have progressed to the middle of the national pack in writing, according to 2007 scores released this morning from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, better known as "the nation's report card."
Eighty-eight percent of Florida eighth-graders scored at the basic level or above on the writing test, which is right at the national average and 10 percentage points higher than in 1998. Only two states, Delaware and Louisiana, have made bigger gains over that period.
A nationally representative sample of 165,000 eighth- and twelfth-graders took the NAEP writing test last year, but state results were not available for twelfth graders. Many experts consider NAEP (pronounced "nape") to be the gold standard for measuring learning.
Nationally, the number of eighth graders writing at basic or above has moved from 83 percent to 87 percent since 1998. Among twelfth graders, the numbers have bounced from 78 percent in 1998 to 74 percent in 2002 to 82 percent in 2007.
On the upside: Many of the biggest gains were made by lower- and middle-tier students.
On the downside: In Florida, the scores show no significant narrowing of the achievement gaps between male and female students (males continue to score lower), or between white and minority students (blacks and Hispanics continue to score lower).
Still, Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith focused on the minority students' strong overall performance on the test as one of the highlights of the results. He noted in a news release that Florida's Hispanic students ranked second in the nation, and the state's black students ranked fourth, in the number of students scoring proficient and above.
"Our students continue to make significant academic progress at the national level and these results are the latest evidence that their hard work is truly paying off," Smith said in the release.
- Ron Matus, state education reporter (Times photo, 2003)