NAEP 2019: Florida maintains high marks despite national slide

Patrick R. Gibbons

In a statement released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Education, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos called 2019 NAEP results “devastating,” opining that the country is in a “student achievement crisis” that has continued to worsen over the past decade.

While the results aren’t great, they’re not quite that bad. One bright spot is that Florida maintains high rankings when adjusting for demographics.

Florida ranks first in fourth-grade reading, first in fourth-grade math, third in eighth-grade reading and eighth in eighth-grade math, according to the Urban Institute’s adjustment of rankings for race, income and English language learner status – and maintains those rankings despite drops in scores for students in the Sunshine State. Nevertheless, those declines are worth exploring.

Florida’s fourth-grade reading dropped 3 points, with Hispanic students seeing a 4-point decline and low-income students seeing a 3-point decline. Eighth-grade reading dropped 4 points, with black and Hispanic students dropping 6 and 3 points, respectively. Florida’s overall eighth-grade reading scores tie the national average, consistent with last year’s scores.

Florida maintained its scores in fourth-grade math and eighth-grade math, however black students declined 3 points while eighth-grade Hispanic students improved by 3 points. Florida’s eighth-grade black students scored at the national average relative to their peers, while Hispanic students maintained a healthy 8-point lead. Florida’s eighth-grade Hispanic math students are the state’s lone bright spot within the 2019 NAEP results.

As the charts show, Florida’s results in 2019 are still far beyond where Florida students started back in 1998, despite the decline.

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