Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Fla. Sets Lower Achievement Goals for Latinos than White Students

There’s no question that an achievement gap still exists between white and Hispanic students. But does that mean goals for Latino students should differ from those set for white students?

The Florida State Board of Education recently set goals for black and Latino students that are lower than those set for white and Asian students. That decision — to set academic proficiency goals that differ by race and ethnicity –  is stirring controversy, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Officials set benchmarks for the percentages of students they want to be at or above their math grade level by 2018:  74 percent of blacks, 80 percent of Hispanics, 86 percent of white students and 92 percent of Asian students.

They set similar goals for students to be at or above reading at grade level: 74 percent of blacks, 81 percent of Hispanics, 88 percent of whites and 90 percent of Asian students. The paper reports that currently only 53 percent of Hispanic students are reading at grade level, compared with 69 percent of white students.

Goals are also set lower for English language learners.

The differences in goals prompted officials from the Urban League to criticize the race-based goals. But state officials say they are useful.

“Of course we do want every student to be successful,” Florida Department of Education spokeswoman Cheryl Etters told the newspaper. “But we do have to take into account their starting point.”

The Daily Record reports that some board members expressed concern before the goals were voted on.

“If Asians can have a goal of 90 percent in reading, why can’t whites, and other subcategories?” the paper reported member John Padget as saying. “So I would just ask my fellow board members if we are happy with the signal this sends.”