The State of Florida has a lot to be proud of when it comes to the 100 black public high school students who were named as semifinalist for the 2014 National Achievement Scholarship Program. The National Achievement Scholarship Program was established in 1964 by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation for the purpose of recognizing outstanding black high school students across the United States. To earn such an honor, these students must first take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) and fulfill additional requirements established by the National Merit Program. Florida’s newest Commissioner of Education Pat Stewart stated, “They are a great representation of the high-caliber students we have in the Sunshine State and I’m so proud of their tremendous accomplishment.”
However, many are asking is the State of Florida, specifically the Department of Education trying to utilize these students as an attempt to illustrate that the state has an effective education system? Are they trying to cover up the flaws in the system where large percentages of students are performing well below their grade level? According to the Florida Council of the Social Status of Black Men and Boys, only 18% of 10th grade black males in the state of Florida demonstrated proficiency in reading on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). In addition, 40% of 10th grade black males in the state of Florida achieved a Level 3 or higher on the FCAT Math assessment, which is a 10% decrease from 2011. Although there are black students making tremendous academic achievements, they are out-numbered by the ones who still need additional academic intervention that is effective.
The state is preparing for the implementation of the Common Core Standards. With the rigor that the Common Core Standards will introduce, all students will be expected to perform at a high level, which emphasizes cognition and synthesis. No evidence has been discovered yet as to how these standards will address students performing below grade level and how to increase their academic skillset to meet the new demands of the Common Core curriculum.