Florida makes strides in minority student graduation rates
Florida's public education system has taken its share of hits lately for the way it has handled its testing and accountability program. With plummeting writing scores and big drops in FCAT passing rates amid changed standards and scoring, some groups have loudly proclaimed that the system is broken and failing.
Despite all that, the state continues to get outside validation that at least some of what it's doing is making a positive difference. The latest news comes from Education Week, which reports that Florida's high school graduation rate for 2009 increased by almost 18 percentage points in a decade -- third best improvement behind only Arizona and New York. That puts the state rate of 70.4 percent much closer to the national rate of 73.4 percent than just a year earlier, when the spread was almost 8 percentage points.
Much of that growth comes because the state's Hispanic and African-American students are completing high school at much greater levels than before. The Education Week report shows that Florida outpaced the national graduation rate among Hispanics and African-Americans, even when broken down into male and female students.
Florida's Hispanic graduation rate of 72.6 percent is second-best in the country, behind only New Jersey. Florida ranked tops among all states for Hispanic female graduates.
"Florida is a leader in many areas of education, and I am incredibly proud of our students for this outstanding achievement," education commissioner Gerard Robinson said in a release. "When we truly embrace diversity, it contributes to the great progress of our children."
Work remains. The state continues to lag the national graduation rate, as calculated by Education Week, and it also sees 356 students leaving the system daily, according to the report. That's higher than every state but California and Texas.