We at the Rio Grande Foundation have been leading the charge on behalf of the so-called “Florida Model” for K-12 education. The reforms were made back in the 1990s and had a dramatic, positive impact in the state’s education performance. This attracted the attention of Gov. Martinez who has attempted to implement a few parts of the “Florida Model” here in New Mexico including: A-F grading of schools, the elimination of social promotion, and greater focus on early-childhood reading. Of course, these are just a few of the reforms Florida successfully enacted.
So, now it is being reported that Florida has had a “fiasco” with its statewide test, the FCAT. As the Herald notes, reforms made in Florida subsequent to those made under Jeb Bush were mishandled causing great embarrassment to the state. They were even the butt of a Jay Leno joke.
This resulted in at least one New Mexico legislator calling for Gov. Martinez to abandon the “Florida Model.” That is silly. As the previously-linked newspaper article noted: “Truth is, the tests have been showing results as thousands more Florida students, including minorities, score ever higher on prestigious exams like the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and more black and Hispanic students head to college. No one can deny that’s progress.”
The truth is that Florida students are performing far better than New Mexico students on national tests and saw that performance improve dramatically after Bush’s reforms. That is the importance of the “Florida Model” and it is why Gov. Martinez should stick to her guns (and hopefully expand her efforts to other aspects of the reforms Florida has implemented).