The Florida Board of Education has met with opposition for approving a strategic plan this week that will categorize students’ academic performance based on race and ethnicity.
According to the Sun Sentinel, the board approved the plan Tuesday and a part of it aims to reduce below grade level performance by categorizing K-12 students into subgroups and setting goals for each one.
The criticism is about the disparity between each group’s goals. According to the plan, the state wants 90 percent of Asian, 88 percent of white, 82 percent of American Indian, 81 percent of Hispanic and 74 percent of black students to be reading at or above grade level by the year 2018.
For math, the state set goals of 92 percent for Asian, 86 percent for white, 81 percent for American Indian, 80 percent for Hispanic and 74 percent for black students.
“All children should be held to high standards and for them to say that for African-Americans the goal is below other students is unacceptable,” Patrick Franklin, president and CEO of the Urban League of Palm Beach County, told the Sun Sentinel.
Cheryl Etters, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Education, says the plan sets “realistic and attainable” goals, not lowers expectations.
“Of course we want every student to be successful,” Etters told the newspaper. “But we do have to take into account their starting point.”
The plan shows each subgroup’s current grade level. Asian and white students score at 76 and 69 percent, while black and Hispanic students score the lowest among racial and ethnicity groups at just 38 and 53 percent.
Broward Schools board member Donna Korn disagrees with this approach.
“All of our students have to face the same careers and if we allow them to have different levels of success, then they will falter,” she said.
“An appropriate vision should focus on improving student performances across the board instead of based on race and ethnicity,” Perry Thurston, incoming Florida House Democratic leader, told The Florida Current. “It is inappropriate to suggest, as the Board of Education has implied, that one race is academically inferior to another.”
Other subgroups included in the plan were based on economic disadvantage, English language learners and students with disabilities.
“There is an achievement gap and we’re working really hard to close that,” Etters said.
The board aims to meet its goals by the year 2018.
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