How wide is ‘rigor gap’ in Florida math and ELA?

Gap leaves students unprepared for college and careers, business group says
By: | December 3, 2020
Almost three-quarters of high school English 2 students who failed the end-of-course exam had earned a C or higher in the class, a new report has found. (GettyImages/RichVintage)Almost three-quarters of high school English 2 students who failed the end-of-course exam had earned a C or higher in the class, a new report has found. (GettyImages/RichVintage)

A new analysis has identified a substantial “rigor gap” between the grades Florida high school students receive and their actual mastery of math and English Language Arts content.

The gap has been revealed by students’ performance on end-of-course Algebra I and ELA exams, according to the report by the Florida Council of 100, a group of business leaders that consults with lawmakers on policy issues.

The analysis, based on three years of Florida Department of Education data, found that almost three-quarters of high school English 2 students who failed the end-of-course exam had earned a C or higher in the class. More than one-third of those who failed had earned a B.

In math, half of the students who failed the Algebra I exam had earned a C and 12% had earned a B.


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“Our analysis concludes that if teachers, leaders, and administrators hold students accountable throughout the school year for the standards they’ll be evaluated on at the end of the year, their grades and test scores will be closely aligned,” said Chris Corr, chair of the Council of 100.

“The rigor gap we see instead indicates the contrary,” he added, “the result being that students are less prepared for success at the postsecondary level or in the workplace.”

One solution the Council is proposing is for educators to better communicate academic expectations to students and parents, especially when classrooms re-open post-COVID.

Studies have indicated that students tend to study less when they expect higher grades from teachers, the Council says.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has likely exacerbated gaps in student achievement, so it is imperative that all students, especially low-income students, students with special needs, English-language learners, and other struggling students are given the supports and honest learning feedback to achieve their individualized educational dreams,” Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said in a statement.

Click here to dig into the report and its proposed solutions further.


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