Should Jeb Bush get credit for Florida's reading gains?
From Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future: Ten years ago today, then-Governor Jeb Bush launched the Just Read, Florida! initiative, a statewide effort to have all children reading on grade level or higher by 2012. An ambitious but necessary goal, Florida’s teachers, parents and citizens have rallied around Florida’s students to ensure students have the best resources available to help them become successful, independent readers.
“Reading is the most powerful skill a child can learn. Reading influences our success in school and improves the overall quality of our life," said Governor Bush, chairman of the Foundation for Florida’s Future. “The command focus we placed on reading through Just Read, Florida! continues to improve student performance in reading and other subjects.”
Through innovative and research-based instruction, professional development, assessment and strong leadership, more Florida students are reading on grade level than ever before, as measured by the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
In elementary schools, 17% more students are reading on grade level or higher than in 2001, and the percentage of students reading at the lowest level has been cut in half.
In middle schools, 16% more students are reading on grade level or higher since 2001, and the percentage of students reading at the lowest level has been cut in half.
In high schools, 12% more students in high school are reading on or above grade level, and the percentage of students scoring in the lowest level has decreased by 13%.
The most impressive gains are seen by Hispanic, African-American, and Students with Disabilities:
23% more Hispanic students are reading on grade level or higher.
18% more African-American students are reading on grade level or higher.
These percentages represent hundreds of thousands of Florida students who have become independent readers.
Florida also leads the nation in reading gains as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which allows for a true comparison of grade level reading scores across all 50 states. Florida’s performance on the NAEP shows from 2002-2009 (the last year of available NAEP data):
Florida’s fourth grade African-American students read as well or better than the average of ALL students in eight states and outperformed or tied their peers in 47 states.
Florida’s fourth grade Hispanic students read as well or better than the average of ALL students in thirty-one states and outperformed their peers across the nation.
"While our hard work has seen tremendous results, we cannot stop now. Success is never final, and reform is never finished. I urge all Floridians to stay focused on our mission – that all students become successful, independent readers,” said Governor Bush.