When the school year was just getting started back up, Virginia was under scrutiny for a controversial move. They changed their standards so that students of different ethnic backgrounds had different expectations on passing school exams. As opposed to having a overall goal of how many students are expected to pass their tests, Virginia decided to have achievement goals vary based on race. Now Florida is following suit.
The new race-based standards were approved by the Florida Board of Education this week, and affects all 2.6 million students in Florida’s 3,629 public schools. So what are the percentages? By the year 2018, Florida expects the following percentage of students to be reading at or above grade level based on their ethnicity:
When it comes to the percentage of students that should be at or above their math grade level:
Not all school officials are pleased with this move. In Virginia, teacher Carolyn J. Smith insists “the focus should be on boosting performance in underperforming racial groups rather than expecting less. The ones in the lower grades, if they don’t feel like they can do math, they’ll give up. And some parents say, ‘I can’t do math, either.’”
Juan Lopez is the magnet coordinator at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Rivier Beach. Lopez says “To expect less from one demographic and more from another is just a little off-base. Our kids, although they come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, they still have the ability to learn. To dumb down the expectations for one group, that seems a little unfair.”
So if people like the Palm Beach County School Board Vice-Chair, Debra Robinson, are “somewhere between complete and utter disgust and anger and disappointment with humanity” and Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush feels these new standards send a “devastating massage” to black and Hispanic students, why is this new measure in effect? Florida officials feel that these new standards won’t lower expectations for kids, rather, “acknowledge current performance and outline a path for improvement.”
BMWK: Is setting lower standards for certain races really the way that they will improve performance?