Did You Know More Than 2.7 Million Students Are Enrolled in Florida Schools?

By: Melissa Roberts

Did You Know? More than 2.7 million students have enrolled in K-12 schools in Florida this year. Florida’s economic vitality and prosperity depends on these students receiving a quality education.

Across the Sunshine State, parents are waking up their children a little earlier because it’s that time of year – the start of another academic season. School has begun for most of Florida’s students, and as our state continues to grow, the student body will grow with it. With that in mind, we take a quick look at student demographics, an important facet of our educational system.

“We believe every student should be academically prepared to succeed in college and career,” said Charles Hokanson, Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer of the Helios Education Foundation. “That preparation should ensure that Florida students are challenged to meet the highest academic standards, that educators are well trained and that ultimately our students can compete and succeed in the 21st Century’s global economy.”

With one of the fastest growth rates in the entire country, securing Florida’s future begins with providing the best educational environment for our students. We believe in a quality education and workforce development system that will enable all Floridians to compete in the 21st century global economy. Florida reaps substantial benefits over the long-term when students reach greater levels of achievement in their education – benefits in higher employability, higher wages on average, and less reliability on public safety nets. In a global economy where students from China, India, Germany, and a host of other countries compete with Americans for high-wage jobs, the ability of our students to excel matters greatly to Florida’s future.

Throughout the past 10 years, Florida has been increasingly growing in the diversity of its student body. In 2003-2004, Florida’s minority student population was approximately 50 percent of enrollment. From that year on, minority enrollment eclipsed majority enrollment. For the 2013-2014 school year, minority students made up 60 percent of the total student population.

An increasingly diverse student body means students often have unique and diverse perspectives, translating into a talent pool that can provide Florida’s economy a competitive advantage, both locally and globally. And Florida’s educational system is responding well to the challenges faced in closing what’s often known as the “achievement gap” – the differences in academic performance measured across ethnic groups. Examining the data on our success in this, consider the following:

  • Florida is the only state to have narrowed the achievement gap between White and African American students in grades 4 and 8 in both reading and mathematics.
  • The percentage of Florida’s Hispanic and African American 4th and 8th grade students scoring at or above “Basic” in reading is significantly higher than the nation.
  • Thirty-four percent of Florida’s Hispanic 12th graders scored at or above “Proficient” compared to only 22 percent nationwide.
  • In 2013, the reading achievement gap between Florida’s White and Hispanic 12th graders was narrower than the national gap, with an average score difference of 11 points compared to a 21-point gap nationally.
  • The mathematics achievement gap between Florida’s Caucasian and Hispanic 12th graders was narrower than the national gap, with an average score difference of 15 points compared to a 21-point gap nationally.
  • Seventy-one percent of Florida Hispanic 12th graders scored at or above “Basic” in reading, compared to only 63 percent nationwide.

While our state continues to make progress on closing the achievement gap, we must also focus on closing the gap on Florida’s attainment rate. According to data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, Florida’s attainment rate – the rate of those 25 and older who have completed high school – ranks 34th in the U.S. at 85.4 percent. Improving this rate to bring Florida into the top 10 states would mean increasing attainment to at least 90.1 percent, a 4.7 percentage point increase in educational attainment. Higher attainment levels have a direct correlation to lower unemployment, higher wages and greater prosperity.

Here Are Three Ways You Can Help Secure Florida’s Future

  1. Join us at the 2014 Future of Florida Forum, September 29 – October 1. As state business leaders, industry experts and elected officials discuss and explore how to secure Florida’s future. The Forum features top level executives and identifies connection points and partnerships that will make Florida a state with vibrant communities, high-wage jobs and endless opportunities for global competitiveness. Register today and be part of the conversations.
  2. Become a Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee and help provide strategic direction for Florida’s future, to 2030 and beyond. For more information, contact Sal Nuzzo at 850-521-1283 or SNuzzo@FLFoundation.org.
  3. TELL US YOUR STORY: How is your organization impacted by Florida’s educational system? Where do you see room for Florida to improve its educational climate?

 

About the Florida Scorecard Did You Know:

The Florida Scorecard, located at www.TheFloridaScorecard.com, presents metrics across Florida’s economy. Each week, the Florida Chamber Foundation produces a Scorecard Did You Know that takes an in-depth look at one specific statistic. If you would like additional information on the Weekly Scorecard Did You Know or on the Florida Scorecard, please contact Sal Nuzzo with the Florida Chamber Foundation at 850.521.1283 or snuzzo@flfoundation.org. You can also follow Sal on Twitter at @SalNuzzo and the Florida Chamber Foundation at @FLChamberFDN.