Last week, the release of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed mixed results nationally, with strong improvements in states—like Florida—that are embracing and faithfully implementing student-centered policies.
This week’s #AskExcelinEd brings you an in-depth analysis on Florida’s performance—including awesome news on subgroup performance. Thanks to Dr. Christy Hovanetz, ExcelinEd’s Senior Policy Fellow, and Jim Hull, ExcelinEd’s Policy Impact Director, for diving into the data!
The morning the 2017 NAEP scores were released, Associate Commissioner of Assessment at the National Center for Education Statistics Peggy Carr notably recognized, “Something very good is happening in Florida.”
Since the late 1990s, Florida has diligently focused on early literacy, rigorous standards for all students, transparent A-F school accountability and empowering parents with public and private education options. And it’s showing. On the 2017 NAEP, Florida made more progress than any other state in the nation in 2017.
What does that progress look like?
- Florida saw improvement on all four 2017 NAEP assessments.
- More impressively, Florida is the only state that showed statistically significant improvement on three of the four assessments (grades 4 and 8 Math and grade 8 Reading).
- Florida is also the only state that showed statistically significant improvement in grade 4 and grade 8 Math between 2015 and 2017.
2017 NAEP Data Dive
- Florida fourth graders ranked 5th in the nation, outperforming the national average of public school students by 7.5 points. (10 points roughly equate to a grade level worth of average progress on NAEP.)
In 2002, Florida implemented a comprehensive K-3 Reading policy to identify struggling readers, provide reading interventions for those readers, engage parents and end social promotion. Over the past 15 years, this policy has contributed to Florida’s fourth-grade readers outperforming the national average by more than half a grade level.
- Florida fourth graders ranked 7th in the nation, outperforming the national average of public school students by 7.2 points.
From 2003-2017, the average math score for fourth-grade students in Florida increased 12 points, from 234 to 246. That’s over a grade level! In that same time, the percentage of Florida fourth-grade students performing at or above the NAEP proficient level increased from 31 percent to 48 percent.
- Florida eighth graders ranked 25th in the nation, outperforming the national average of public school students by 1.2 points.
In just two years, the percentage of eighth-grade students performing at or above the NAEP proficient level increased from 30 in 2015 percent to 35 percent in 2017.
- Florida eighth graders scored lower than the national average of public school students by 3 points; however, the state still made significant progress.
From 2003-2017, the average math score for eighth-grade students in Florida increased 8 points, from 271 to 279. That’s nearly a grade level! In that same time, the percentage of Florida eighth-grade students performing at or above the NAEP proficient level increased from 23 percent to 29 percent.
Is Florida Closing the Equity Gap?
Possibly the best part of Florida’s 2017 NAEP story is that all student subgroups significantly outperformed their national peers in fourth-grade Math and Reading.
- Florida Hispanic students outperformed the average student in 35 states and D.C.
- Florida low-income students outperformed the average student in 21 states and D.C.
- Florida Hispanic students outperformed the average student in 38 states and D.C.
- Florida low-income students outperformed the average student in 17 states and D.C.
From Maine to Hawaii, states should pay close attention to Florida. Because Florida—with its diverse student population of 2.8 million K-12 students—is closing equity gaps by prioritizing high standards for all students and schools while empowering families with educational choice. And if Florida can do it, any state can.
About the author
Christy Hovanetz, Ph.D.
Christy Hovanetz is a Senior Policy Fellow for ExcelinEd focusing on school accountability policies. Dr. Hovanetz served as the Assistant Commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Education and Assistant Deputy Commissioner at the Florida Department of Education. She has worked in education policy for the state of Florida since 1999 serving as the Director of Evaluation and Reporting, Director of Reading First and a Policy Analyst for Governor Jeb Bush. She graduated summa cum laude from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education with a minor in mathematics and is a certified teacher in the state of Minnesota. She earned her Masters of Public Administration at the University of Minnesota and a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University.