Orlando-area schools raising academic standards despite improving test scores

Schools in the Orlando metro area are implementing increasingly-stringent academic standards just in time for the new school year, according to the Orlando Sentinel. This is despite the fact that test scores and other education stats in the area have seen a general uptick. Improved academic standards make the area more desirable to live in for families, possibly leading to a surge in demand of homes for sale in Orlando.

Eustis Elementary School is one such school that is implementing a more rigorous curriculum this year. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the campus jumped from a C to an A letter grade this year, as a result of enhancements on the campus as well as a successful recent history of test results. Along with the improved rating, however, is the implementation of a curriculum that is designed to push students harder from an earlier age.

"They'll definitely be more challenged, especially in their reading and vocabulary," Robin Armitage, a teacher for the past 33 years, told the news source. "We'll have a lot of the same skills - we're just kind of attacking those skills in a different way. Right now, my first-graders will be doing what my second-graders [were] doing. Everything's been bumped up to get them college and career ready."

This focus on being prepared for college from a young age is reflected in the state's improving test scores. According to Florida Today, the average scores for high school graduates in Florida improved by two-tenths of a point to 19.8 on the 2012 test. While this is still slightly below the national average, the improvement is reflective of efforts by the state's education board to raise academic standards across the board.

According to The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Florida has largely been at the forefront of education reform since the implementation of its pivotal A+ plan for education in 1999. The new plan allowed education officials to effectively assess how the state's students were performing in school.

With a consistent measurement tool in place, officials could scrutinize the data and implement the specific reforms they needed, providing a more targeted path for improvement. According to the news source, the reforms have been effective, as demonstrated by the improving test scores, higher graduation rates and the narrowing of the achievement gap between minority groups.