The One Florida Plan Executive Summary
All students in Florida, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, economic circumstances or Zip code should have the opportunity to fully reach their highest educational aspirations. But today, that is not the case. Some schools are more equal than others. Generally, high-performing schools offer tougher curriculums, more experienced teachers and better opportunities, while low-performing schools offer lower standards, lower expectations and fewer opportunities. Not surprisingly, the large majority of students attending these low-performing schools are minority students from impoverished families.
As a result of our failure to provide many of these children with a quality education, we are forced to rely on social promotion and race- and ethnic-based admissions policies to move these kids through the system. These well-intentioned policies are often supported in the name of diversity, but it is a false diversity — one that gets you in, but does not get you ready. In addition, it is a diversity that discriminates by ignoring hard work and performance. Underperforming students who are admitted to Florida’s colleges and universities without the skills necessary to succeed are less likely to graduate, less likely to attain a high wage job and less likely to enjoy the quality of life they deserve.
Working closely with Chancellor Adam Herbert, Gov. Bush has developed a strategy for improving resources and opportunities in underperforming schools and for reforming university admissions practices.
We will ensure more of the minority students who are entering our postsecondary system are prepared for what lies ahead. We will increase the number of minority college graduates.We will do more than any other state in the nation to enhance diversity at the post-secondary level without having to rely on the policies of the past.
And we will ask the Legislature to increase funding for need-based aid by $20 million. We will seek $1.6 million to ensure all 10th grade children take the Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test, $2.4 million to expand Florida’s Online High School to target students in D and F high schools, $10 million for the Governor’s Mentoring Initiative and a $1 million increase in funding for the College Reach Out Program. We will also pay teachers incentive bonuses for teaching Advanced Placement Courses in our low performing schools.
Implementation of the A+ Plan. The A+ Plan for Education places a command focus on improving low-performing schools serving low income and minority students and promoting achievement among the bottom 25 percent in every school in the state. The legislation calls for an end to social promotion, stringent accountability for failure of schools, incentives and rewards for improvement and the resources and flexibility for schools to succeed. The Legislature appropriated $527 million for students who need help meeting promotion and graduation standards. These funds provide for such programs as tutoring after school or at home, Saturday morning sessions; extended school year and lowering class size.
Make PSAT Available to All Tenth Graders. As the gap in SAT scores between African Americans and Whites has widened over the last decade, it has become increasingly obvious that few children in low-performing schools are encouraged to take the Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test. In A and B schools four times as many students take the PSATs compared with students in our state’s D and F schools. Gov. Bush will recommend to the Legislature $1.6 million in funding to pay for every high school 10th grader to take the PSAT in order to improve readiness for the SAT exam.
Partnership with The College Board. Florida will become only the fourth state in the nation to have a formal partnership with The College Board to assist in identifying, motivating and better preparing students in low-performing schools. Through this partnership, The College Board will provide training to all teachers in Florida’s 65 D and F high schools.Schools will be provided with software that can be used to track performance, and they will receive assistance in offering pacesetter courses designed to improve academic readiness for college. These strategies have proven successful in significantly raising SAT achievement in inner city and high poverty schools.
Increase Availability of Advanced Placement Courses. Another inequity among high and low performing schools is the availability of Advanced Placement courses. … AP courses are rarely offered in schools serving low-income and minority populations. Schools that do offer AP courses receive approximately $850 for every student who scores a three out of five or better on their AP tests. Teachers currently do not see this money. Gov. Bush will recommend that AP teachers now receive 20 percent of the additional funds generated by students who score a three or better, and in D and F schools these teachers will receive 30 percent. This means that if half the students in a class of 16 pass the AP exam, the direct financial benefit to the teacher would be more than $2,100. If that teacher teaches two AP courses, then the financial incentive would double. Such a direct financial boost will encourage teachers to recruit students and sponsor AP courses in low-performing schools.
Target Utilization of Florida Online High School. Another means for providing advanced college preparatory coursework opportunities for students in low performing schools is to encourage greater use of Florida’s Online High School. This network offers advanced courses for any student with access to a computer. While spaces are limited, Governor Bush will propose $2.4 million for the Florida Online High School to target students attending D and F high schools.
Create Post Secondary “Opportunity Alliances.” Each public and private university, college and community college in Florida will be challenged to adopt at least two low-performing high school or middle schools and provide direct mentoring, tutoring, advanced courses and recruitment programs to encourage students to strive for higher achievement. As has been demonstrated in California, this will increase outreach and recruiting efforts with minority students.
Mentoring Initiative. Gov. Bush’s Mentoring Initiative, announced in August, focuses on students in low-performing schools in an effort to increase utilization of community resources for improving academic performance. The governor will recommend $10 million to help at-risk students be successful in school and prepared for postsecondary education.
Equity in Educational Opportunity Task Force. Gov. Bush will create by executive order and name a 17-member task force that will be charged with evaluating the inequities in opportunity between schools. The task force will be chaired by state Sen. Daryl Jones of Miami and will determine the extent to which some public schools receive less financial support and less intangible support than others. This will include looking at the experience level of teachers in a school, the levels of funding a particular school receives as well as the disparity in opportunities among schools, such as AP courses.
Eliminate Race and Ethnicity as a Factor in Admissions Decisions. Florida’s state university system is committed to diversity. However, diversity can be achieved without having to make race or ethnicity a factor in admissions decisions. State universities now rely on other race-neutral socioeconomic factors in admissions decisions that can be indicative of race or ethnicity — factors such as income level, geography, special talents and whether an applicant is a first generation college student. Utilizing these factors without regard to race or ethnicity, Florida universities can continue to achieve the level of diversity desired while providing a legally sound statewide policy of admissions.
The Talented 20 Percent. In a further effort to bolster diversity — and to replace race and ethnic-based admissions policies with achievement-based admissions polices — Florida will create the Talented 20 program. This initiative will guarantee admissions to one of our state universities to the Top 20 percent of each graduating public high school class in Florida without regard to SAT or ACT scores and boost need-based financial aid by 43 percent — a $20 million increase. By casting this broad net, students attending low-performing schools or schools with heavy minority enrollment will see their chances for admissions improve, and Florida’s commitment to diversity will continue. As a result of the Talented 20 program, approximately 1,200 additional minority high school graduates will be given the opportunity to attend a state university. We already know that 410 of these minority students are qualified now by virtue of completing the required college preparatory curriculum. The remaining 800 will be admitted if they can complete missing threshold credits prior to admission. We will not penalize high performers who might not otherwise qualify for university admissions because they attend low-performing schools.
No other state in the nation has taken such a bold step, and Florida will not shrink from its leadership role. This is only the beginning. Florida will become a model of opportunity for the rest of the nation.
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com