23rd 2008
Jeb Bush’s Stellar Education Reform Record Worthy of Colorado Emulation

Posted under Education Politics & Governor & Grades and Standards & Innovation and Reform & School Accountability & School Choice

Probably the best state for Colorado or any other to look to as a model in education reform is Florida. Education reform was the primary focus of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush during his eight-year tenure, and he was able to make progress on many fronts. The remarkable success yielded by years of systematic advances in school choice, accountability, standards, and teacher pay makes the Sunshine State worthy of emulation:

Government-gathered data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show that Florida has outpaced Colorado and the national average in nearly every measure of math and reading proficiency.

Dan LipsIn that light, it was important that Heritage Foundation education policy analyst Dan Lips was able to sit down and interview Jeb Bush (H/T Matt Ladner) at a recent education reform summit in Orlando. Here are a few key excerpts of Bush’s remarks from the interview transcribed at National Review Online:

We need all schools — here in Florida and in 49 other states — to get better for our country’s future. The only way to improve student performance is through continual and perpetual reform of education. America needs a 21st century education system for a 21st century world….

Raising standards, measuring progress, grading school performance, providing educational options and targeting resources to reward success and reverse failure are all tools that are transforming schools and raising student achievement.

However, success is never final. I hope we never stop trying to implement more innovative and audacious reforms….

I also believe we need to better apply free-market principles to the way we deliver education in order to improve the entire system. We should expand educational options so all parents can make the best choices for their children. Teachers and principals should be paid based on performance. Educators that teach subjects with a shortage of teachers, teach in low-performing schools or carry increased responsibilities should be paid more. We should also give merit pay to teachers based on student learning gains and other objective measures….

People from across the ideological spectrum can agree that improving the quality of education for students from every background, from pre-K through high school, is the great challenge of our time. We need to put partisan rhetoric aside and work together to raise student achievement through reforms that produce measurable results.

Go and read the whole thing. For the sake of myself and other kids, too, it would be great if Colorado could have a leader as bold, articulate, and visionary as Jeb Bush.


17 Responses to “Jeb Bush’s Stellar Education Reform Record Worthy of Colorado Emulation”

  1. CAUTION on 21 Aug 2008 at 1:20 am #

    The spin machine was in full force in Orlando at the Summit. Winds were felt hundreds of miles away. Please, Colorado, research Florida before trying to emulate Jeb’s disastrous
    doings. We rank among the top in dropouts and among the bottom i n ACT and SAT scores. The highest stat I recall had 78%
    of our college students reqiring remediation. Why would you wish this on your state? Plus, the bar is not always raised. For example, they just eased graduation standards to up our numbers and our writing standards have been lowered. Fight this now.

  2. Ben on 21 Aug 2008 at 9:21 am #

    I have reviewed the NAEP evidence, and there is a definite positive trendline that correlates to Bush’s reforms.

    But please share actual links, sources, citations, etc., for graduation rates, ACT / SAT scores, college remediation, etc.

    These factors are lagging indicators of reform, so the data won’t show the full effects of the reform yet. It also would be best not to look at a static figure of Florida’s ranking in a particular category for one year, but to chart a similar trendline.

    But I’m interested in seeing the competing evidence, so please share links.

  3. CAUTION on 21 Sep 2008 at 1:08 pm #

    Ben, Please google the needed terms to get the articles on our SAT scores, ACT scores, dropout rates, college students needing remediation etc. Also be informed that Florida has a retention policy in grade 3. Therefore our grade 4 is purged of many poor scorers. Also, if ou hear the stats provided by Mr. ladner about the difference in proficiency percentages between 1998 and 2007, again please know the retention policy was not in effect in 1998. The omission of these details put this undeserved praise in its perspective.Save your state from following Florida..

  4. Ben on 22 Sep 2008 at 11:11 am #

    So the kids who are poor readers (or can’t read at all) are not socially promoted from 3rd grade? Seems like that might be part of the success Florida has had.


  5. Ed is Watching » Delaware Is More Proof that Strong Standards and Parental Choice Work on 23 Sep 2008 at 9:37 am #

    [...] couple months ago I told you about the state of Florida’s amazing success in improving early reading test scores. Here [...]

  6. Diane Hanfmann on 28 Dec 2008 at 11:16 pm #

    Actually, my point is not about social promotion. My point would be the missing poor performers in Florida’s grade 4 would elevate Florida’s grade 4 standing in comparison to those who perform poorly but would be in fourth grade anyway in other states. By keeping them out of the pool of grade 4 scorers, you get better results at that grade level.
    For example, if I had a sample of all 7 year olds and compared their swimming ability to a group which consisted only of 7 year old swimmers who enrolled and qualified for the state swim team, the second group would appear better due to exclusionary factors.
    Don’t get so excited about ending social promotion, which by no means is accomplished in Florida. Repeated retention can be correlated to dropping out, a stat where Florida ranks high…
    drop out.
    Look elsewhere for educational models unless you like Jeb’s failures.

  7. me updating on 12 Jul 2009 at 7:46 am #

    Is Ed watching the Northwestern University study that shows Florida’s voucher students do not fare better in their higher graded school? OOPS!!!!

  8. Ben on 13 Jul 2009 at 9:51 am #

    Eddie is flattered by the attention. Perhaps you need to read the study more carefully before making such a blanket “gotcha” statement:


  9. me updating on 13 Jul 2009 at 7:13 pm #

    I have a few more gotchas then, if you are not satisfied.

    1. Does Florida have a grade 3 retention policy? Yes
    2. Would removing low scorers from the grade 4 pool raise the mean score?
    3. Does Mr. Ladner compare filtered group to non-filtered groups when he compares Florida’s grade 4 to other states?
    4. Does Mr. Ladner compare years when there was no retention policy to years when the retention policy was in effect?
    5. Are such compariosns wise? Does Mr. Ladner omit this information?
    6. Are you familiar with the work of Walter Haney of Boston University?

    2008 FCAT Reading results for Florida’s grade 10 Hispanic students (Level 1 is lowest while level 5 is highest.)
    Lev 1 42 %
    Lev 2 28 %
    Lev 3 16 %
    Lev 4 6 %
    Lev 5 8 %

    I think I have one more for you…Was it true that the percentage proficient in grade 10 reading has increased by one (from 37-38) over the many years? This year’s tenth graders were the first class to be exposed to the accountability system for their school career.

  10. Matthew Ladner on 14 Jul 2009 at 10:23 am #

    You’ve been struck by Jeb-haytah and cyberstalker Hanfmann! And it looks like she’s back to her old trick of using multiple internet handles.

    It’s good to know that some things are totally predictable and dependable in these troubled times.

    Florida’s 3rd grade retention policy was designed to improve early childhood literacy, and it has succeeded:


    Florida’s 4th grade reading scores increased 8 points before the retention policy. Further, the percentage of children scoring low enough on 3rd grade reading to be retained dropped 40% between 40% between 2003 and 2007.


    If the improvement were simply an artifact of retetion, we would expect to see a huge spike in scores in 2003, and then a large drop off in 2005 and 2007.

    What we actually see is steady improvement, and the obvious explanation is that kids are learning to read much better in Florida- confirmed not only by the NAEP scores but also by the dramatic decline in the percentage scoring low enough on FCAT to be eligible for retention.

    Retained kids do get into the NAEP sample- sometimes a year late, often only after a summer program, etc. The good news is that they know how to read much better than their predecesors.

    These facts have been presented to Hanfmann before, and if she is true to form she will again ignore them and begin a lengthy diatribe on why she believes the A-F grading system of schools in Florida is unfair.

  11. me updating on 18 Jul 2009 at 5:16 am #

    Back to reality, as could be evidenced by Mr. Ladner’s including the third grade retention policy being in evidence while he touts comparing differing groups.
    Mr. Ladner, respond to Mr. Haney’s research. What has kept you from mentioning his work on Florida and NAEP scores in light of retention?
    Am I correct to report that one student cann be in grade three three times in Florida? Have you seen the 2008 grade 10 FCAT scores in Reading? Here they are, after full exposure to the A+ plan:
    Level 1 is lowest while level 5 is highest.
    Level 1 42%
    Level 2 28%
    Level 3 16%
    Level 4 6%
    Level 5 8%

    Certainly this excludes the dropouts who were Hispanic. Justthought you would appreciate my attempt to add transparency to your topic.

    Let me be generous ,and momentarily stupid, and say grade 4 is nothing but a miracle much in need of great adoration of Jeb, I am left wondering what good was it that I could dance like a ballerina when I was 9 but fell far below average when I was older and could do something with my ability? My brief adventiure into stupidity has ended.

    I usually use my name to describe my feelings or intent after seeing you endlessly omit the retention policy factor.
    Wasn’t it your own friends who found Hispanics were retained at a higher rate in a year which would have effected one of the stats you like to tout? OOPS!

    As always, the existence of Math is not new. When low scores are removed from a sample, the mean rises.

  12. me updating on 18 Jul 2009 at 7:13 am #

    While you refer to me as a cyberstalker, I find my actions important in providing missing information which I have repeatedly noted absent from discussion. Actually, I cannot post on many of your sites since there is no opportunity to blog or I am automatically discarded. Hmmm. I await your answers to my questions and issues. Perhaps I should be flattered by your name calling. Maybe it means you have little to rebut.
    Have you forgotten the considerable research on Florida and retention? It certainly is not a one sided issue. What about the correlation between repeated retention and dropping out?
    Doesn’t Figlio’s study shine a giigantically bright light on a problem with Florida’s accountability sytem? Wouldn’t the exodus of low scoring students from schools attached to the label low performing perform the same mathematical function as retention by reducing the number of low scorers from the school?
    What a way to reduce the number of low performing schools without improving learning in the students sent away to a school with a higher grade? What does that say about better teacher quality when the voucher kids don’t learn more in a school with a higher grade?

  13. Ed is Watching » Bolstering the Case for Jeb Bush’s Florida Education Reform Success on 07 Oct 2009 at 11:13 am #

    [...] Last year I told you about the remarkable education reform success story in Florida. The elements of this success can be traced to a comprehensive set of policy changes made while Jeb Bush was governor, including: [...]

  14. me updating on 07 Nov 2009 at 6:49 am #

    Why am I blocked from many of your sites? I do not cuss. I only provide information you omit as far as I can see and debate what I see as misrepresentations. Not everyone is fooled. You can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
    Hey, merit pay didn’t work in Texas. Florida is being sued for its dropout rate/bad policy. Will you be writng about that? Have you publicized Figlio’ s study that Florida’s voucher system doesn’t work? I gave up trying to combat your views as I was blocked so often.

  15. Ben on 08 Nov 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    Which sites are you supposedly blocked from? I don’t operate that many sites, and have not blocked your comments — as anyone can see by scrolling up the comment section in this post.

    Please feel free to write about what you want on your blog. And please feel free to continue posting relevant comments, and I will continue publishing them.

    If they’re not really out to get you, might one consider that paranoia?

  16. Ed is Watching » Colorado Succeeds Report Makes Case for Following Florida’s Reform Success on 13 Oct 2010 at 11:25 am #

    [...] Jeb Bush’s Stellar Education Reform Record Worthy of Colorado Emulation (July 2008) [...]

  17. Ed is Watching » Former Gov. Jeb Bush Headlines Denver ACE Luncheon with Inspiring Message on 02 Jun 2012 at 10:19 am #

    [...] Bush sounding the call for more choice as a catalyst to his winning education reform formula. His successful track record as Florida governor from 1999 to 2006 is tied to his focused and comprehensive [...]

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