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New Policy Brief: The Evidence On The Florida Education Reform Formula

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If I understand Matt's report, it suggests that while it is unwarranted to ascribe the Florida Formula as the cause of increases in student performance on NAEP and Florida exams because other initiatives may have been responsible, a few of the components have demonstrated small effect sizes increases when looked at individually. One of those alternative explanations should be explored more thoroughly: Florida has some of the best large districts in the country such as Hillsborough. If you ask these districts educators why their districts improved, many will claim it was not because of the state's high-stakes accountability initiatives or increased competition which can cause considerable collateral damage. Instead they will claim that they followed a build and support strategy which succeeded despite state policies. They will also argue that recent substantial cuts to educational funding have stalled Florida's progress and far outweigh any meager gains found in the research cited in this report stemming from a few of the Florida formula's components. As to the statement in the report that no negative consequences of the Florida Formula components have been documented, that claim has not been adequately researched by evaluating the individual measures. As you mention, and some of the research you cited finds, high-stakes accountability can cause gaming the tests, narrowing the curriculum, and deterring cooperative building of social capital--a key to improved performance as this blog has argued consistently. Thus, the Florida Formula might be detracting from those initiatives that do produce high effect sizes such as team building and reduce the overall effects of these research based initiatives which would otherwise produce larger gains in performance. None of the research cited examined that issue.

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