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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Smart kids left behind? Not so fast ...



smart_kids.The latest flare-up in the bright-kids-left-behind debate is still burning. Both the Center for American Progress and the National Education Policy Center posted responses in recent days to the idea forwarded by researcher Rick Hess and the folks at the Fordham Institute (and even the St. Petersburg Times' Bill Maxwell in a column yesterday) that a laser-like focus on the achievement gap has hurt smart kids.

The comeback from CAP cites national test score data that shows the percentage of students scoring at the highest levels is growing, not stagnant or declining: "From 2000 to 2009, for instance, the percentage of eighth graders scoring at the highest level in math jumped 3 percentage points on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. There’s also been a jump in the percentage of fourth graders scoring at the advanced level on the math exam over that same time period."

We wish we had time to take a closer look at the NAEP data (especially because the CAP folks didn't mention reading) and, to get a better sense of what's going on in Florida, the FCAT data. But for what it's worth, we took a quick peek at FCAT reading and math scores for 10th graders in 2000 and 2010. Given all the hand-wringing over high achievers, the numbers are surprising.

In both subjects, the results show, there is strong growth in the percentage of students scoring at the highest levels of the FCAT; in fact, the growth appears to be stronger among those students than it is for those just clearing the bar.

In reading in 2000, 19 percent of 10th graders scored at Level 3; 6 percent scored at Level 4; and 4 percent scored at Level 5. In 2010, the percentages had grown to 18, 8 and 14 percent, respectively.

In math in 2000, 23 percent of 10th graders scored at Level 3; 22 percent scored at Level 4; and 6 percent scored at Level 5. In 2010, the percentages were 29, 35 and 9 percent, respectively.

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[Last modified: Monday, October 17, 2011 6:38am]


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