One of the clearest measures of Florida's public schools — the graduation rate — remains an embarrassment, hobbling far too many young adults in an era when finding a decent job, even for high school and college graduates, is tough. But new data suggest Florida's public schools have begun at least some of the hard work required to improve that record for younger students. • The 2009 results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress — called the Nation's Report Card because it reflects a standardized test given nationwide — shows Florida's fourth-graders are achieving better results in math and reading than their predecessors six years ago and have eclipsed the national average. Eighth-graders, too, have gained significant ground. Their reading performance is above the national average, while math performance still lags slightly. Also significant is that the gaps between achievement for white students versus black and Hispanic students are shrinking. • While not nearly enough, it's progress deserving recognition.
A good measure of progress for Florida students
Test results are lumped into three achievement levels: below average; basic, which reflects partial knowledge of a subject; and proficient or above, reflecting full mastery of a subject.