A+ Plan adds up

Published: Thursday, May 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 at 11:06 p.m.

In an effort to portray Governor Bush's A+ Plan for education in a poor light, The Sun's April 27 article, "Squandering school rewards," redefined fuzzy math.

However, no matter how you add the facts together, the result is a monumentally successful program that benefits thousands of children, parents and teachers across the state.

When we introduced the program in 1999, only 202 schools in the entire state achieved an "A" grade. Three years later, almost 900 schools performed at this level. From 1998 to 2002 FCAT reading and math scores have risen steadily among all students. For example, in 1998 only 22 percent of fifth-grade Hispanic students performed at or above grade level. That number increased to 52 percent by 2002.

From reduced dropout rates to higher grades, nearly every measure of student performance has improved based on the common-sense innovations of the A+ Plan. Unlike figures in your story, these statements are backed by real numbers, not extrapolations from shaky estimates based on missing information.

School recognition awards work because they reward achievement and allow spending decisions to be made at the local level.

Florida teachers, parents, and administrators assess the needs and goals of their individual schools and collectively decide how to get the most benefit from their reward dollars.

By their own fuzzy math, the authors grudgingly admit that 97 percent of these decisions have been good, but for some reason, use this fact as evidence of widespread abuse.

They claim to be concerned about how the schools are serving students, but then harass individual administrators repeatedly for data while complaining that these educators refuse to drop everything to meet a reporter's request.

I agree that something doesn't add up here. But it's not the A+ Plan.

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