Palmetto Policy Forum releases policy paper on education

  • Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The newly formed Palmetto Policy Forum announced the release of its inaugural policy paper, “Transformation: What South Carolina Can Learn from Florida’s K-12 Reforms.”

In 1998, South Carolina students led Florida students in performance on a number of national tests, including the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as “The Nation’s Report Card.”

But over the last decade, Florida far surpassed South Carolina in K-12 education outcomes, most notably among traditionally disadvantaged student populations:

Third Grade Reading: While gains were made, 2011 NAEP scores showed only 48 percent of low-income South Carolina fourth graders were functionally literate.

Meanwhile, from 1998-2011, low-income Florida students scoring “Basic or Better” on reading in the fourth grade surged from 37 percent to 62 percent, leaving room for additional progress but showing a large improvement.

Low-income Florida students outscored all South Carolina students on the NAEP fourth grade reading exam in 2011, demonstrating the important fact that demography is not destiny.

Minority Students: From 1998-2010, the number of black and Hispanic Florida students passing one or more Advanced Placement exam more than tripled.

In 1998, Florida’s Hispanic students read approximately one grade level behind the average South Carolina student. Now, Hispanic students have made such strong progress that they outscore the statewide reading averages of all students in 21 states and the District of Columbia, including South Carolina.

In 1998, black students in South Carolina significantly outscored those in Florida in reading. In 2011, Florida’s black fourth graders were reading a full grade level ahead of their South Carolina peers.

Disabled Students: Florida saw the largest gain in the nation for students with disabilities in combined math and reading NAEP scores from 2003-2011 with a net gain of 54 combined points. South Carolina suffered the nation’s largest decline, with disabled students scoring 44 combined points lower in 2011 than 2003.

Leading the nation in technology: Florida bridged the digital divide with aggressive development of online programs.

Welcoming great minds: Florida achieved greater access to the abilities of its citizens who had the capacity and life experience to make great teachers without forcing them to follow complicated and redundant certification processes.

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