Putting Education Reform To The Test

Report Says Accountability Is Essential To Improving Florida Schools


Dominic Calabro

Florida’s system of public education is flourishing thanks to high standards and measures of accountability. That’s the gist of a briefing from the Florida TaxWatch Center for Educational Performance & Accountability.

The authors note that Florida ranked in the top 11 in the last four years in Education Week’s annual Quality Counts report.

“That’s not just because of policies on paper that sound good;” they write, “it’s also because the state has moved the needle on student achievement, particularly for low-income kids.”

The “Accountability is Essential” briefing finds that Florida has to stay on track to maintain the significant gains made for students over the last decade.

The report suggests the path forward must include more challenging coursework for students once they’ve mastered content. It also should analyze how well prepared students are for post-secondary learning and careers.

From the briefing:

By 2018, Florida’s Economy will demand a total of 385,000 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) jobs. Of these jobs, 58 percent will require a bachelor’s degree or higher and a total of 89 percent will require some postsecondary education and training.

Our students, if provided the necessary critical thinking, reading, mathematics, and technology skills, can effectively compete in the market place, earning competitive wages.

The briefing says students will succeed if everyone in public education is held accountable by:

  • Using effective and appropriate assessments to measure learning;
  • Including assessments to help improve student achievement and quality teaching strategies;
  • Acknowledging that not all instructional practices are equally effective; encourage educators to adjust instruction based upon individual student performance;
  • Encouraging teachers to push students who have mastered content on to more rigorous work; free up additional teaching time and use alternate strategies for students who struggle.

“We must be vigilant in supporting an accountability system that teaches our students the skills they will need to compete and prosper in the 21st century economy,” said Dominic M. Calabro, President & CEO of Florida TaxWatch. “These assessments provide educators and policy-makers valid information as to what is working and what needs to be changed.”


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