Southern Regional Education Board: Florida has had a great decade of progress in education (but they left out science)

Gradebook blogged yesterday on a new report from the influential Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) titled “Florida – A Decade of Progress”.

Among the highlights from the report that Gradebook quoted was this:

In 2011, Florida’s fourth-graders outperformed the nation and region in reading and math at the Basic level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress — with 71 percent scoring at or above Basic in reading, compared with 66 percent in the nation; and 84 percent at or above NAEP Basic in math, compared with 82 percent in the nation. Black and Hispanic fourth- and eighth-graders narrowed achievement gaps with white students in reading and math on NAEP Basic from 2003 to 2011.

If you bring up the document and do a simple search for the word “science”, you get three hits.  One mentions that science, along with reading and math, had been included in SREB’s 2010 “High Schools That Work” assessment.  The science results are not mentioned.

The second mention of the word “science” in the document is this:

The Challenge to Lead goals called for SREB states to ensure that salaries and benefits for college and university faculty members are competitive in the marketplace.  To attract top faculty, colleges and universities need to compete in a national labor market, particularly in such disciplines as mathematics, science, engineering and business. SREB states, however, continue to trail the nation in faculty salaries.

And the third:

States also may need to provide incentives for teachers who fill specific needs, such as teaching in particular high-need subjects –– including science, math and special education –– or geographic locales that have a difficult time attracting qualified candidates.

It’s certainly easy to agree with each of the last two statements – they are important action items for any state focused on improving science education.

But the conclusion is that if Florida has made progress in education – and it appears to have done so in reading and math – it has not yet brought the effort to bear on science that will be required to progress in that subject.

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