Ohio And Florida Took On Education Reform, One Fared Better

(Ashton Marra/ideastream)
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When Ohio’s scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP, exam were released last month, they showed almost no academic growth for Ohio fourth and eighth graders, much like the rest of the country.

In fact, Florida was one of the only states to show progress, especially with low-income and black students.

Chad Aldis with the education think tank the Thomas B. Fordham Institute said 15 years ago, Ohio and Florida were in opposite positions.

It was Ohio low-income and black students who were excelling on NAEP exams, but the states have essentially flipped.

“Why when Ohio did many of the same education reforms as Florida, has Florida seen a lot of progress and Ohio hasn’t?” Aldis questioned.

The answer, he said, is consistency and robust implementation.

Florida increased graduation requirements, implemented an A-F grading system for schools, and increased school choice options, much like Ohio, but state leaders didn’t back down when its policies were criticized.

That’s not what Aldis has seen happen in Ohio.

“Whenever it starts getting a little uncomfortable, instead of saying, ‘no, no, these expectations are important and they’re going to drive long term student achievement,’ we back away,” he said, “and seemingly forget why we instituted those reforms to begin with.”

Aldis said in order to see achievement increase in Ohio, in order to boost scores on the NAEP and other exams, Ohio leaders need to stop shifting education policies so quickly and allow for some consistency in the system.

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