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Educational reform in the state of Florida has proved to be successful as the students’ performance increased in the state. The state ranks 11th in terms of students’ achievements whereas before the reform it was at the bottom of the rating. The so-called achievement gap (i.e. the gap between performance of white and minority students) has decreased, though it still exists.
Other states also try to implement the reform. Of course, it is important to remember that to make the initiative successful, government leaders will need to use a comprehensive approach, i.e. the reform should be implemented in full.
The Reform in the State of Florida
The Educational Reform in the State of Florida was initiated by Jeb Bush, then governor of the state. This reform was implemented in terms of the program launched by then President George Bush “No Child Left Behind” (Anderson, 2011). Notably, the reform has proved to be very successful as the situation has improved considerably. The reform has addressed several issues.
Firstly, the state grades schools from A to F. This grading is based on the school’s progress in annual tests in writing, reading, mathematics and science (The Economist, 2012). The schools that receive A get extra funding, whereas if a school grades F twice in four year, students can transfer to another school with a better grade. Apart from this, the third graders who cannot read properly are not any more allowed to the fourth grade.
Besides, in terms of the reform teachers whose students pass certain tests receive certain bonuses. Furthermore, the system of vouchers enabled parents to choose among public, private, charter and online schools. Some methods of certification were also implemented. As any other reform, the present initiative has evoked many debates. There are proponents and those who oppose the initiative. Researchers, educators and officials single out positive as well as negative outcomes of the reform.
Arguments for the Reform
As far as positive outcomes of the reform are concerned, there are quite many of them. For instance, Florida which was at the bottom of the rating in terms of educational achievement has approached the top ten states (Coutts & LaFleur, 2011). Coutts and LaFleur (2011) note that the average performance of Florida’s students is still quite low, and there is still a gap between white and minority students’ performance. However, the researchers admit that the situation in the state has improved significantly (Coutts & LaFleur, 2011).
Wilson (2012) provides major achievements of the reform. Thus, students with disabilities, Hispanic students and African American students
have made great strides in closing the achievement gap in fourth-grade reading and fourth- and eighth-grade math, improving a grade level each year since 2003 (combined average). (Wilson, 2012, n.p.)
The researcher also notes that the achievement gap (though it still exists) has decreased in the state. It goes without saying that education has become more achievable for many people. Minorities and students coming from poor families can obtain higher education. There are lots of grants and other opportunities to go to a college. At this point it is necessary to add that the number of Florida’s students who take various standardized tests has increased (The Economist, 2012).
Remarkably, parents can better understand their children’s performance. Parents and students can also choose a school in accordance with the quality of education. On the other hand, schools are also encouraged to improve the services provided. Schools try to have a good grade to remain competitive. Of course, competition is one of the premises for development.
Likewise, teachers are also encouraged to give more. If a teacher manages to be inspiring, the students successfully pass exams. These achievements turn into financial benefits for the teacher. This also encourages teachers to try their best to make their students interested in their subject. Undoubtedly, this positively affects the overall performance of students of the state.
Arguments against the Reform
Irrespective of all positive effects, there are still those who oppose the reform. One of the major arguments of the opponents is that Florida’s students’ average performance is still quite low as the state ranks eleventh (Wilson, 2012). Wilson (2012) claims that this is not quite enough to completely confirm that the reform is 100 per cent effective.
Opponents of the reform also state that there is still quite considerable achievement gap between white and minority students (Coutts & LaFleur, 2011). The opponents admit that the gap is not that high. However, they stress that the reform cannot be regarded as totally effective if the achievement gap still persists.
The reform is also criticized for its reliance on standardized tests (Anderson, 2011). It is also mentioned that Jeb Bush slightly increased the fees. However, it is necessary to add that the fees are quite low if compared with the rest of the states. Finally, many people claim that another drawback of the reform is the way Jeb Bush implemented it. Thus, he used quite autocratic ways to make people adopt the new ways.
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Efforts to Take
Admittedly, some arguments against the reform are quite justified. Nonetheless, the reform has proved to be effective. Many states try to implement the reform to improve their educational system (Anderson, 2011). However, it is important to be quite careful when implementing the system.
In the first place, it is important to remember that any reform is a complex entity. Therefore, it should be implemented in full. It is inappropriate to adopt some ways while ignoring other measures and methods. It can be even more effective if all states implement the reform.
Some argue that implementation of the reform needs a lot of money. Nonetheless, government leaders can implement the reform without raising taxes or school fees. Of course, this sphere will still need considerable funding, but it will not require extra funding. The reform presupposes justified allocation of funds. Thus, schools which get grades A and B can obtain extra money, while schools which get C-F will receive only standard funding. More so, it is possible to implement additional measures to help schools performing poorly.
Of course, additional bonuses for teachers have fostered quite heated debate. Some educators argue that introduction of these bonuses can lead to various violations. More so, some believe that the bonuses may lead to certain kind of disproportion. Admittedly, this is quite a serious issue to address. However, government leaders should not focus on some individuals’ ambitions. It is possible to launch some proficiency tests for teachers. Educators should help teachers who perform poorly. Various training courses should be available for teachers.
Therefore, it is possible to note that the educational reform in the state of Florida has proved to be effective. However, it is also important to note that it is far from being completed as educators and government leaders have a lot of issues to address.
Anderson, N. (2011). Another brand of Bush school reform: Jeb’s. The Washington Post. Web.
Coutts, S., & LaFleur, J. (2011). How other states can learn from Florida’s successful education reform. Business Insider. Web.
The Economist. (2012). The Floridian school of thought. Web.
Wilson, M. (2012). Point of view: Florida’s education reforms are gaining national acclaim. The Florida Times Union. Web.