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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida's fourth graders tops in reading



There's much being made of the latest round of international test results that show Florida fourth graders at the top in reading. From USA Today:

The results are promising: Florida fourth-graders’ reading skills, at least on PIRLS, rank among the world’s highest. In fact, no one — not Finland, not Singapore, not Hong Kong — scored higher.

In a statement, former Florida governor Jeb Bush called the results “great news for Florida’s students and teachers.”

He added, “Sunshine State students are once again busting all the myths and proving that all kids can and will learn when education is organized around their achievement.”

Mike Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington-based education think tank, said the results show “real and significant progress happening in reading in the early elementary grades,” not just in Florida, but nationwide.

Jack Buckley, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education, said the rankings don’t necessarily mean that Florida fourth-graders are the best in the world. For one thing, he said, Florida was the only state whose reading results were compared internationally.

“I can’t prove this, but I suspect if we had been able to give PIRLS to all of our states, we would have had a pretty decent-sized sample of states that were at or exceeding Florida’s level,” he told reporters Monday.

Good news for those who put stock in test scores. Some leaders even are suggesting that such results support the current reform effort, and that Florida must do even better. There are many who don't see it that way, though. They point to their own experts who are calling for fewer tests with lower stakes. Many teachers are becoming discouraged. Is there a middle ground, where we can seek and achieve measurable success without losing the teachers?

[Last modified: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 10:09am]


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