Florida education department aims to drop race-based academic targets
Four years ago, the Florida Board of Education received blistering criticism for adopting academic targets that differed by racial groups. Board members didn't like the concept at first, saying all children should be judged by the same goals, but they were convinced by staff that the approach might help to reduce the achievement gap among the races.
Groups continued to blast the board and governor's office two years later, calling for the end to what they considered a discriminatory policy.
In the board's latest version of its strategic plan, up for consideration Friday, the separated "annual measurable objectives" required to get a No Child Left Behind waiver are gone. No longer would African-American children be expected to perform on grade level at a lower rate than white children, for example.
In their place are proposed statewide goals by subject area -- "increase by 6 percent in each subject area" the percent of students at grade level or above, by 2019-20. Regarding the achievement gap, the plan would call for reducing by one-third "the gap between each subgroup in each subject area" over the same time period.
Department officials have said they felt the previous effort was misunderstood, and they've worked to tamp down the issue ever since. The 2012 plan with the details isn't even available on the department website anymore. The board is expected to discuss its latest plan at its meeting at the Tampa Airport Marriott.