By way of a contrast of two states when it comes to education reform, Florida has been among the pioneers in school choice–themed education reform, especially for disadvantaged and disabled students. Meanwhile, Rhode Island pursued a “fix the system” approach that hit a political ceiling when Democrat Governor Lincoln Chafee took the reins.
Results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test give a sense of the divergent results. The following chart combines 4th and 8th grades and math and reading scores:
Generally, looking at the red line for “all students,” one could suggest that Florida’s reforms were more stable, compared with the now-sinking results for Rhode Island. But look at the difference for disadvantaged groups! Poor students (“school lunch”) have made huge progress in Florida, and “disabled” students (including all variations of learning disabilities) have at least kept pace with general improvements, while they’ve lost ground in Rhode Island.
To put it in progressive terms (or the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s 2012 report), look at the closing of the gaps in Florida.