Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Goldwater Institute: Arizona 30 years behind Florida

By Matthew Ladner, Ph.D.

We have emphasized Florida's extraordinary success in raising academic achievement, noting that Florida's low-income Hispanic students outscore the statewide average for all Arizona students on 4th grade reading tests.

The figure below demonstrates just how extraordinary that accomplishment is by reversing matters. How do Arizona's free and reduced lunch eligible Hispanics compare to the statewide average for all students in Florida? Not good.

We have achieved some progress among low-income Hispanics in Arizona--eight points on a 500 point test over the past decade. At that pace, the scores for Arizona's free and reduced lunch eligible Hispanics will match Florida's 1998 average performance level somewhere around the year 2027.

You could set your calendar for a celebration, except Florida's average performance has been improving twice as fast. Absent substantial reform, Arizona's low-income Hispanics may never catch up to the Florida average.

Florida's low-income Hispanic students already outscore the statewide average for several states, including Arizona. In fact, Florida's low-income Hispanics outscored the Arizona average for the first time in 2005.

The cement of Arizona's reputation as a part of the Appalachia of the 21st Century will continue to harden until lawmakers get serious about education reform.

Dr. Matthew Ladner is vice president of research at the Goldwater Institute.

Learn more:

Goldwater Institute: Cutting Off Doom and Gloom at the Pass

Goldwater Institute: I'll Have What Florida's Having

Goldwater Institute: Fortune Favors the Bold: Reforms for Results in K-12 Education

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