Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush pioneered many of the education reforms the rest of the country is now discussing, including data-based school and teacher assessments, school choice and charter schools. Florida student standardized test scores improved after Bush took office in 1999. The federal Race To The Top grant program takes its cue from Florida.
Bush’s plan is based on six pillars:
- Grading schools on a simple A through F scale based on student standardized test scores.
- High-stakes testing.
- Requiring students to meet grade standards before promotion to a higher grade.
- Paying teachers based on student performance.
- New methods to credential teachers.
- Adding charter schools, private school vouchers (since struck down by a court) and online schools to offer parents more choices.
Critics, such as a June 2011 report from the National Education Policy Institute, argue there is no evidence that the reforms Bush supported led to improvement by Florida students. Still, the Foundation for Excellence in Education that Bush founded is a national advocate for education reform and Bush is the chief face of Republican-favored proposals — increasingly embraced by Democrats — many states are now considering.