Democrat Dan Gelber responded to the Department of Education’s announcement of Florida’s improved public high school scores, blasting the news as “illusory successes.”

Gelber, who recently lost the election for the state attorney  deneral’s office to Republican Pam Bondi, is a former prosecutor and member of the Florida Senate. He wrote:

I just finished reading a second Department of Education press release in so many weeks touting how terrific Florida’s High Schools are performing. The press statements rely on graduation rate statistics (that only Florida is using), and a new “self-test” that is being given to high schools under recently enacted legislative guidelines. While I hate to rain on anyone’s parade, as a parent with three kids headed in the direction of Florida’s high schools, I think it’s counterproductive to mask deficiencies with illusory successes.

He cites data from the 2010-2011 Congressional Quarterly Education State Rankings, which show:

  • Florida’s estimated per capita public elementary and secondary school spending in 2010 ($1,272) ranks the state 46th in the nation.
  • Florida’s 61 percent estimated public high school graduation rate ranks the state 45th in the nation. The national rate is 73 percent.
  • The 19.5 Average Composite Test score ranks Florida 48th. The national ACT average is 21.

According to the American College Testing program, the ACT, “assesses high school students’ general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work.” They add that “caution should be used in using ACT to compare states.”

The Congressional Quarterly data also shows that Florida’s 498 average math SAT score ranks the state 45th. The national average score is 515.

Florida’s 480 average writing SAT score ranks the state 41st. The national average is 493.

Gelber adds: “And if you were wondering whether we are overpaying our teachers, our average schoolteacher salary in 2010: Florida ranks 37th ($46,912)”

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