Gov. Rick Scott wants the State Board of Education to change its plan to set passing scores based on a student’s race. But he isn’t saying what the board should do to alter the plan.
Every child should be performing on grade level in subjects like math and reading, Scott says. “I mean, I learn differently than other people learn, but I do know that all children can learn,” Scott says, “and we should expect we should have high standards for everybody.”
The Board of Education’s five-year plan sets higher passing scores for Asian and white students than black and Hispanic students.
Scott released a statement saying the board’s strategy doesn’t do enough to close the achievement gap.
“I believe their plan should be 100 percent focused on making sure that every child in this state is proficient in the areas that we care about,” Scott says, to make sure that children are "prepared either to go to college or for a career.”
Reporters repeatedly asked Scott what part of the plan should be changed. He wouldn’t give specifics.
But he told the board the new standards should clearly acknowledge that all students are capable of performing at grade level regardless of their race or background.
Board Chairman Gary Chartrand issued his own statement, saying in part:
“We have to acknowledge that there are different starting points among groups of students today. We can only close the achievement gap in Florida if we are willing to have an honest conversation about what it will take to get all students to that level of success.
Absent this kind of measurement focus, the achievement gap between African-American students and white students in Florida was only reduced by 5 percentage points between 2001 and 2010.”
Full statement by Gov. Scott on the State Board of Education’s plan:
“The goal of our education system is to prepare students in Florida for success in college and careers. In order to ensure that all of our students are making progress toward ultimate success in college and careers, we have to measure student achievement and ensure the highest level of accountability.
“When looking at those measurements, an achievement gap still exists between different groups of students in our state. Such a gap is unacceptable. The actions taken last week by the State Board of Education in adopting their strategic plan did not clearly articulate our shared commitment to fully close that achievement gap for all students, regardless of race, geography, gender or other circumstance.
“We will only have accomplished our goal when every student is performing at the highest level and ready for success in college and careers. The standards set by the State Board must clearly and sincerely acknowledge that all students are capable of performing at grade level regardless of their race or background and that our ultimate goal is to ensure there is no achievement gap in Florida’s education system.
“With this in mind, I would ask the board to more completely incorporate this recognition into its strategic plan so that we can focus our efforts on helping every student to achieve the highest level of success.”