Success an Uphill Climb for Students? Education Indicators Stacked against Florida, Georgia Kids, Index Decides

Article excerpt

Byline: TIA MITCHELL

Florida and Georgia children are less likely than those in most of the nation to experience success throughout their lives, according to a national report released Wednesday.

The Chance-for-Success Index, created by the publishers of an education trade publication, ranks Florida 31st out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Georgia was No. 38. Virginia was the top ranking state, and New Mexico was at the bottom.

The index is based on 13 indicators designed to highlight various economic and educational benchmarks throughout children's lives, starting with the family they are born into and ending with the income and educational levels they can expect to attain.

Florida was given high marks for its employment rates and the percentage of students who enroll in early education programs. But it lagged behind in the two income indicators and those dealing with high school and postsecondary participation.

While applauding the index for its broad approach to education issues, Florida Education Commissioner John Winn also cautioned that it is a generalization that shouldn't be used to draw conclusions about how all Florida children will perform.

He pointed out that some of the same factors that make Florida unique, such as its large number of immigrants, play into the low ranking. Among the four most populous states, all of which have similar demographics, only New York ranked higher than Florida, and Texas and California were lower.

Joseph Joyner, superintendent of St. Johns County schools, said although assumptions shouldn't be made about whether all 13 indicators directly cause a person to become more successful, he does have his own ideas.

Three issues have the most impact, Joyner said. They are a child's abilities, the emphasis within a child's family on the importance of education, and the quality of teaching. …