Does Florida's focus on elementary schools with lowest performance in reading work?
Since 2012, Florida lawmakers have required students elementary schools with the lowest performance on state reading exams to sit for an extra hour of daily reading instruction.
Once focused on the lowest 100 schools, the Legislature recently increased the scope to the lowest 300. And after years of complaints about the program and its lack of targeted funding, the Senate pushed $50 million in funding into the state's 2016-17 budget.
But is the money worth the investment?
A newly released report by Florida State University researchers suggests not.
Citing statistics similar to ones in a 2014 OPPAGA report, the FSU team found that the schools saw some improvement in their reading scores, but nothing significant enough to attribute to the extra instructional time. (The most common approach was to rearrange the class schedule, ending the day later.)
"While school reading performance grew considerably, this change cannot be attributed to the policy because it did not exceed what was expected. If this study had not accounted for expected change, it would have appeared that growth in school reading performance among the lowest performing schools was attributed to the extra hour of instruction provided. Unsupportable conclusions might have been made about the relationship between extending the school day and improved student performance."
The researchers suggested the state might want to change the way it defines low-performing schools, perhaps using more data to make the determination.