Maybe Jeb's plan is working?
Above this morning's story, the St. Petersburg Times blared this headline across the top of the front page: "Florida test scores up, BUT WHY?" We don't write the headlines, but now that it's out there, let's roll with it. Why did some Florida test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, better known as the Nation's Report Card, rise so dramatically during the Jeb era? Did Jeb's accountability regimen put students on the right track? Is this one area where the former gov deserves credit?
At yesterday's press conference with Department of Education officials, the Gradebook asked Florida education commissioner Jeanine Blomberg how much of a role smaller class sizes might have played in the uptick. "That could be one of the factors, but you can't really isolate that," she said. She went on to say that other "reform efforts" have had a bigger impact, because they were in place before the 2002 class-size amendment really got rolling, and because by then, Florida's NAEP scores were already on the rise. Does that argument hold water?
Meanwhile, state Rep. Dan Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat and a leading critic of Jeb's ed agenda, complained that while the state was making progress, it was only in two subjects: reading and math. Is that a fair criticism? Aren't basic reading and basic math the subjects you want students to master first and foremost?
- Ron Matus, state education reporter