Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Point of View; Celebrate Progress in Public Education

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Point of View; Celebrate Progress in Public Education

Article excerpt

Byline: Audrey Moran

Last year, our public school system marked its 150th anniversary.

It's incredible to look back on all that has changed since then - but you don't have to go back many years at all to see how far our community and its schools have come.

In fact, too often, Jacksonville doesn't give itself credit for the progress that we've made. That's especially evident in public education.

In 2009, just over half of Duval County's high school students graduated in four years, according to a tougher new national graduation rate calculation. The figure was 55.8 percent, to be exact.

We lagged far below other big-city districts in Florida.

Today, that stands at 74 percent, finally in line with other big districts and close to the state average.

And the figure is likely to rise when the 2015 graduation numbers are released later this year.

MANY MARKERS OF ACHIEVEMENT

It's not just graduation.

College readiness rates have soared, and students are passing more accelerated courses that will give them college credit.

This is crucial, because in Jacksonville and across the state of Florida, businesses face a shortage of college graduates.

The Lumina Foundation estimates that 60 percent of jobs will require at least some post-secondary education by 2020.

Most recently, we got even more exciting news. Duval County Public Schools joined the ranks of large urban districts nationwide that are reporting results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation's Report Card.

The NAEP, given to a representative sample of students nationwide, is one of the longest-running and most reliable assessments of student achievement, and it is one of the few that can compare across cities and states.

Here is what it showed:

Duval County is outperforming the national average and the urban district average in almost every measure. …

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