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Reform Florida

This series of policy briefs examining education reform in Florida finds that the results of the state’s aggressive school reform program have been mixed, and that the state's actions often do not match its rhetoric when it comes to implementing reforms.

Each of the following sections can be found in downloadable format below. The separate Executive Summaries can be found here.


Introduction and Executive Summary.  By Alex Molnar 

Policy Brief 1:  Good and Bad News About Florida Student Achievement: Performance Trends on Multiple Indicators Since Passage of the A+ Legislation.  By Madhabi Chatterji

This brief presents a review of long-term data on five state and national indicators, and verifies outcomes and trends. It examines the main premise of the A+ mandate that, given appropriate schooling, students will have equitable outcomes and access to opportunities.

Policy Brief 2:  Teachers' Views on High-Stakes Testing: Implications for the Classroom.  By Lisa M. Abrams

To explore the policy impact of Florida’s state testing and accountability program on classroom practices, teachers, and students as perceived by educators, this brief presents the results of a national survey in which the responses of Florida teachers are compared with those of practitioners in other states using high-stakes exams.

Policy Brief 3:  Retaining Students in Grade: Consequences for Florida.  By Mary Lee Smith

Retaining students in grade and using proficiency standards to determine students’ progress through grades was intended to make schools accountable and increase academic achievement; however research evidence demonstrates that grade retention does not, in fact, improve achievement.

Policy Brief 4:  Funding Florida's Schools: Adequacy, Costs, and the State Constitution.  By Douglas N. Harris

The purpose of the adequacy movement is to give all students the opportunity to reach their potential. This is no easy task, but the results of a cost study would provide a basis for reasoned discussion and policy reform.

Policy Brief 5:  The Status of English Language Learners in Florida: Trends and Prospects.  By Victoria-Maria MacDonald

This brief examines how Florida annually provides equal educational opportunities to almost 300,000 non-native English speaking students who have been identified through surveys and testing as Limited English Proficient (LEP). In particular, it examines the ongoing efforts of the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) to meet both the letter and spirit of the 1990 Consent Decree between the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Florida Department of Education. 

Policy Brief 6:  Putting a High Quality Teacher in Every Florida Classroom.  By Douglas N. Harris

This brief summarizes evidence about the characteristics of effective teachers, describes the characteristics of teachers and teacher policies in Florida, and recommends policy changes to help the state meet the significant challenges of meeting the demand for quality teachers in the coming decade.

Policy Brief 7:  Teacher Evaluation.  By Gene Glass

Several policy recommendations can be derived from the issues surrounding teacher evaluation and testing in Florida.

Policy Brief 8:  Innovations and Accountability: Vouchers, Charters, and the Florida Virtual School.  By Timothy A. Hacsi

Florida’s system of accountability relies heavily on state-wide testing, and the state’s choice options remain largely outside the testing program. This brief provides recommendations for Florida policymakers to ensure that children are able to gain access to the best possible system of education. 

Policy Brief 9:  Reforming the Structure of Florida's Accountability System.  By Sherman Dorn

This brief explains why accountability is a common public expectation today; it describes what is new in Florida’s accountability policies since 1999; and it compares those policies to the national mandates in the No Child Left Behind Act.

Policy Brief 10:  Alternatives for Florida's Assessment and Accountability System.  By Sherman Dorn

This brief describes the current federal mandates for state accountability, professional standards for testing and accountability, and testing and accountability options that currently exist or have existed in practice outside Florida.

Policy Brief 11:  Class Size, Pre-Kindergarten, and Educational Adequacy: Costs and Funding Options for Florida. By Douglas N. Harris

The analysis in this brief suggests that the recurring costs of the class size and pre-K amendments will be $3 billion per year after full implementation, and that full funding would raise Florida's ranking only slightly. Recommendations are provided for the Legislature to aid in estimating costs and providing funding.