As the Florida Legislature continues to disrespect teachers and assign them all of the blame when students don’t succeed, it seems only fair to praise teachers when students do well. According to the latest national statistics released this week, some of Florida’s students fare much better than people might guess.
In reading, Florida fourth-graders trail their peers in only six other states, including Massachusetts, which is held up as a national model for school standards. A dozen years ago, Florida was near the bottom.
And in eighth-grade reading, Florida is only one of nine states that made gains.
These results came as part of the National Assessment of Education Progress, which is often called "the nation’s report card." The NAEP scores are a credible measure, not a political one. The reading test is given every other year to a representative sample of fourth- and eighth-graders.
One other piece of good news. Some of the best gains for Florida eighth-graders were among the lowest-performing students. So some of the students who need the most help are making some of the most progress.
Florida’s public schools still have a long way to go in so many areas. But in this era of accountability, who should be recognized for the significant gains of the past decade, if not the teachers themselves?