Florida's academic goals need dose of reality, learning disabilities rights activist says
The Florida Board of Education should think hard before eliminating its academic goals that differ among demographic groups, a leading activist for learning-disabled student rights says.
"We need specific goals by group, because each group has unique needs," Learning Disabilities Association of Florida co-president Mark Halpert told the Gradebook via email. "Time to focus on what our kids needs us to do so they become successful, and be politically correct only to the extent it helps our kids succeed."
Halpert was one of the few people to publicly support the 2012 proposal to create distinct annual measurable objectives for the different subgroups. Reaching even those goals would be a major undertaking, he said, and students' performance to this point demonstrates that fact.
For example, Halpert noted, the 2012 plan set a goal of having 88 percent of white students be proficient in reading by 2018, up from 69 percent in 2012. By 2016, after several changes to the standards and tests, the actual rate was 63 percent.
The goal for Hispanic students was 81 percent, up from a base of 53 percent, with the actual performance of 48 percent. The goal for students with disabilities was 71 percent, up from 29 percent, with an actual performance of 19 percent.
"It's time to set real goals and make sure there is an action plan to succeed," Halpert said. "Otherwise, we will have replaced tough goals with goals that do not have a chance of being achieved."
The State Board will discuss its strategic plan update Friday at the Tampa Airport Marriott.