Florida Students Lag in High School Testing


In a newly released report, Florida students ranked last in 2005 among 23 states that gave reading and English tests required for high school graduation. Only 52 percent of Florida students passed the tenth grade level reading test on the first try compared to 91 percent in Ohio.

The Center on Policy Education produced the study. CEO Jack Jennings believes such comparisons, however, are unfair because the tests and standards vary greatly among each state. And he says Florida stuck with higher test standards.

JENNINGS: When the No Child Left Behind Act came in with penalties some states such as Colorado and Michigan changed their standards but Florida did not. Florida is trying to bring kids up to a higher level. But, Florida has a bushel full of problems.

Yet, Jennings called Florida's results unimpressive because the test is only a tenth grade level.

JENNINGS: If Florida can't get 60-70-80 percent of their kids to pass at a tenth grade level, how are they going to go to an 11th grade level?

He says Florida schools are heavily impacted by immigrants and there's no magic bullet for teaching English language learners.

JENNINGS: What doesn't work is to not spend the money or the time or hiring the teachers in order to work with these kids. The message is pretty clear. The future of the country is increasingly going to be in the hands of immigrants. And unless we pay attention to their needs right now, we're going to have a less educated workforce in the future.

On the first try, only 10% of English language learners passed the high school FCAT reading test in 2005.

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