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Students on free or reduced lunch don't test as well

FPO

The statement

Says students who receive free or reduced lunch are "performing just as well" as students who do not.

State Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, during debate.

The ruling

A version of a controversial education bill that Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed in 2010 is being fast-tracked through the Florida Legislature: SB 736, "Son of SB 6."

It would link raises for teachers to student performance and limit the length of teacher contracts to one year.

During floor debate Thursday prior to its passage in the Senate, Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, tried to offer an amendment that would give school districts flexibility in judging teachers who have the "extra challenges" of teaching students who receive free or reduced lunch.

The idea got a rise out of Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando.

"Are you saying just because a child is on free or reduced lunch, they need additional assistance?" asked Siplin, who said that he — like Gov. Rick Scott — "grew up in the projects" and turned out all right.

Altman recoiled to say that wasn't his intent, and claimed free and reduced lunch students are performing as well as their counterparts.

"Our poverty schools are performing just as well," Altman said.

On average, though, they aren't.

PolitiFact Florida researched student performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test for 2010 through data from the Department of Education.

FCAT exams start in third grade and measure student performance in writing, reading, math and science.

At every grade level, in every subject area tested, students receiving free or reduced lunch scored worse on average than those not.

Here's an example: Fifth-graders in 2010 scored a 336 on average. Those who received free or reduced lunch scored 323 on average, while those who did not scored 356. The same trend played out for every grade level.

We rate this claim False.

Edited for print. For this and more rulings, go to PolitiFact.com/Florida.

Students on free or reduced lunch don't test as well 03/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 11, 2011 8:59pm]
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