Florida, quite unlike Kentucky, has a very large number of school choice options. So, after I posted a blog on January 24, 2019 noting how dramatically well Florida performed on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 2017, I wondered, “How do Florida and Kentucky compare on the NAEP over the years?”
I decided to take a look at the NAEP results for Grade 4 reading from the early days of the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 and the most recent, 2017 results. The NAEP graphics assembled below tell the tale for how Florida compares to the rest of the nation including Kentucky over the years for the overall average scores for all students tested in each state.
Figure 1 shows how things looked back in 1992, the first year that NAEP gave the state-level reading assessment for Grade 4. As you can see from the color coding, Kentucky’s fourth graders statistically significantly outscored Florida’s back then. Also note that 27 states in total outscored Florida on this assessment by a statistically significant amount in 1992.
Now flash forward to the picture in 2017, shown in Figure 2.
The word that immediately comes to mind for Florida is – WOW! Florida really flip-flopped from its low showing in 1992 to become a notable leader in 2017. Florida now outscores 37 states plus the District of Columbia schools by a statistically significant amount, and good old Kentucky is one of the states Florida pulled that flip-flop on! At present, only two states in the whole country do statistically significantly better than Florida. As I said – WOW!
While a lot of factors could have played into the massive Florida Flip, you have to consider that Florida’s selection of many school choice options in the past several decades certainly didn’t impede this development. Meanwhile, with school choice essentially absent in Kentucky for the entire period from 1992 to 2017, you have to seriously question if the Bluegrass State’s decisions to date about school choice have been a disservice to our kids.
Stay tuned, BTW, because as our long-term readers know, I have always cautioned about only looking at overall NAEP average scores to draw conclusions about relative state performance. So, we’ll look at some student subgroup performances in future blogs.
Tech Note: Figure 1 was assembled with the NAEP Data Explorer web tool.