Education Week’s 2016 Quality Counts Report Highlights Strengths and Weaknesses in Florida

Author: Michelle Boehm, Research and Evaluation Analyst

Posted on: January 25, 2016

Recently, Education Week released its 20th annual Quality Counts report, Called to Account: New Directions in School Accountability. The annual report features state rankings and grades presented within a selected context based on national priorities, with this year’s accountability theme highlighting achievement and poverty gaps in state NAEP performance. State highlights of the Quality Counts 2016 report include overall summative grades and rankings based on three indices (Chance for Success, School Finance, and K-12 Achievement). 

Compared to an overall national grade of C, Florida scored slightly lower with a grade of C- and a ranking of 30. Florida’s performance also fell below the average state on the Chance for Success Index and School Finance Index with a 37 (C) and 38 (D+), respectively. On a positive note, Florida scored higher than the average state on the K-12 Achievement index with a ranking of 11 (C). Florida’s comparative strengths and areas for improvement as defined by a ranking within the top or bottom fifth in the country include the following:

Areas for improvement:
Linguistic foundational risk factor. Florida ranked 44th in the nation on linguistic integration, with approximately 20% of children having parents not fluent in the English language.

Low NAEP 8th grade math proficiency. In 2015 Florida ranked 41st on 8th grade math NAEP performance, with only 26% of 8th graders scoring at or above proficient on math (compared to 32% nationally).

Low per-pupil spending. While Florida scored well on the equity portion of the School Finance Index (for example, Florida ranked 1st in the nation on similar spending across districts), measures of spending amount are less encouraging with Florida ranking 41st in the nation on adjusted per-pupil expenditures and 43rd on spending on education.

Low high school graduation rate. Seventy-five percent of Florida high school students graduated with a diploma in 2012, leading to a ranking of 43. This compares to a national high school graduation rate of 81%.

Low adult annual income. Florida ranked 49th in annual income with only 42% of adults earning at or above the national median.

High kindergarten enrollment. Florida ranked 9th in kindergarten enrollment, with almost 80% of eligible children enrolled in a kindergarten program in 2014 (compared to 78% nationally).

Large achievement gains on NAEP. Despite Florida’s poor ranking on NAEP 8th grade math, Florida students’ achievement gains on NAEP from 2003-2015 in 4th grade reading, 4th grade math, and 8th grade reading are some of the highest in the nation. Florida was ranked as one of the top ten states for greatest scale-score improvement on NAEP in these three grades/subjects across time.

Reductions in NAEP poverty gaps. Florida had among the smallest achievement gaps between National School Lunch program eligible and non-eligible students on NAEP 4th grade reading in 2015, ranking 2nd in the nation. Additionally, Florida ranked in the top ten states for closing the gap in both 4th grade reading (3rd place) and 8th grade math (7th place) from 2003 to 2015. At the same time, it should be noted that poverty-based achievement gaps on NAEP have persisted in Florida across time. Therefore, a comparatively high ranking reflects an area of national concern.

High scores on Advanced Placement. Florida ranked 5th in the nation for high AP test scores, with an average of 38 out of 100 students scoring a 3 or higher. Additionally, Florida scored 3rd in the nation for change in AP test scores across time (i.e., change in high scores per 100 students from 2000-2014).

The 2016 Quality Counts report highlights Florida’s relative strengths in addition to the significant amount of work to be done across the education spectrum. As such, Helios Education Foundation’s continuing mission is to ensure students are academically prepared at every stage of the education continuum-from early learning to postsecondary education-and ultimately graduate college and career ready.  

Click here to learn more about Helios’ work across the three impact areas of Early Grade Success, College and Career Readiness, and Postsecondary Completion.  

Click here to obtain more information about the 2016 Quality Counts report.

Category: College and Career Readiness

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