Fla. Uses Race to Set Student-Achievement Goals

1:11 PM, Oct 11, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (First Coast News) -- Everyone wants their child to succeed, and while that may look different for each kid, it shouldn't be based on how they look.

But according to the Department of Education in Florida, the color of a student's skin may determine their ability to succeed.

Their new strategic vision for 2018 factors in a student's race to their performance expectations.

MORE: Read the Florida State Board of Education's Strategic Plan

Marquita Wilson wants the best for her daughter.

Wilson's daughter is a senior at William Raines High School and she expects her to do well after graduation.

"The world is competitive and well rounded. You have to be able to present both," Wilson said.

But the new strategic vision generated by the Department of Education does not have the same expectations for all students.

The Board of Education just approved a plan for the next six years that factors in a students race as an indicator of success.

"The students should be measured for where they are, because the color of your skin doesn't determine that," she said.

The statistics laid out by the department of education tell a different story.

They broke the goal's down in math and reading, here are the reading numbers:

By 2018, 90 percent of Asian students are expected to be reading at grade level.

But only 80 percent of white students, 81 percent of Hispanic students, and 74 percent of black students are expected to do the same.

Seventy-four percent is not an acceptable number for Marquita Wilson.

"It's definitely a negative connotation, especially for those who can achieve higher, and now you're saying all you have to achieve is this," she said.

Before the Board of Education approved the strategic plan, some members raised the same questions.

"If Asians can have a goal of 90 percent in reading, why can't whites, and other subcategories. So I would just ask my fellow board members if we are happy with the signal this sends," said Board Member John Padget.

"It would be making a heck of a statement, wouldn't it John, to say this is what we expect Hispanics and African Americans will be able to accomplish compared to other groups and just leave it at that. You throw up a big question there," said Board Member Roberto Martinez.

Other subcategories were included in the plan, with disabled students, economically challenged students, and English-learners all under 80 percent reading by 2018.

Board Members in support of the strategic vision argued that the numbers they're aiming for in all categories would be an improvement on current levels.

Though statistically each racial group is not expected to improve at the same rate.

"I think we need to be realistic in our ability to impact those at the same degree," said Board Member Kathleen Shanahan.

The Board voted to approve the plan, which will now be the gold standard for every school in Florida.

Marquita Wilson thinks it's a shame the state doesn't hold all their children to the same standard.

"They all go to school together, they live in society together, work on the same jobs, so the standards should meet across the board for all of the kids," said Wilson.

First Coast News

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