It’s been a little more than a year since Florida was granted a waiver to the No Child Left Behind Act, and civil rights groups are concerned that Florida kids are falling through the cracks.
Under the Act, schools must show that certain minority groups and students at an economic disadvantage are not falling behind. But Florida has a federal waiver that lets it instead focus on students performing in the bottom 25% on math and reading tests.
Rufina Hernandez, Executive Director at The Campaign for High School Equity, which just published an analysis of the waivers, says while No Child Left Behind isn’t perfect, the reporting requirement was a good idea.
"It shined a light on these students for the first time and now we could see individually per subgroup how each one of those groups was doing, performing", said Hernandez.
Hernandez says that Florida’s waiver could potentially mask achievement gaps within schools.
"For example we actually had a scenario where a high school performance was very good, but once we got into the desegregation of the data, we saw the black students weren’t doing well", Hernandez explained. "That’s the kind of light we need to show on these students."
Hernandez points out that if those student groups aren’t tracked, it’s hard to ensure they get the support they need to succeed in school.