Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the Foundation for Excellence in Education have embarked on a well-funded campaign to spread selected Florida education reforms to other states. These reforms include assigning letter grades to schools, high-stakes testing, promotion and graduation requirements, bonus pay, a wide variety of alternative teacher credentialing policies, and various types of school choice mechanisms. This policy potpourri was recently presented by Gov. Bush in Michigan, and the documents used allow for a concrete consideration and review. Regrettably, Bush’s Michigan speech relies on a selective misrepresentation of test score data. Further, he offers no evidence that the purported test score gains were caused by the recommended reforms. Other viable explanations, such as a major investment in class-size reduction and a statewide reading program, receive no or little attention. Moreover, the presentation ignores less favorable findings, while evidence showing limited or negative effects of the proposed strategies is omitted. Considering the overwhelming evidence that retention is ineffective (if not harmful), it is troubling to see Mr. Bush endorse such an approach. Finally, Florida’s real problems of inequitable and inadequate education remain unaddressed.
Mathis, W. (2011).Review of “Florida Formula for Student Achievement: Lessons for the Nation.” Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved [date] from http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-florida-formula.