Lessons for Michigan

No single policy Florida implemented has been shown to explain all of the state’s achievement gains on the NAEP, so Florida’s experience provides no “silver bullet” to improve test scores in Michigan. State policymakers interested in replicating Florida’s success should recognize that this achievement followed a series of reforms, and that in the absence of further research findings, the logical conclusion is to pursue all of them.

Practically speaking, however, it is difficult to imagine all of these reforms being adopted and implemented simultaneously. They were not in Florida; some were adopted years before the others.

This naturally leads to the question, Where should state policymakers start? There is no indisputable answer, but there are several guiding principles that make sense.

First, it seems reasonable to favor Florida policies shown to be effective by high-quality research. Similarly, even though we do not know exactly which reforms may have contributed most to Florida’s success, policies potentially affecting a broad number of students and schools would seem more promising than those more limited in scope.

In addition, given some uncertainty about how the Florida reforms interacted with each other, it may be that the sequence of reforms in Florida mattered. This suggests some wisdom in adopting Florida’s earliest reforms sooner rather than later.

In light of these considerations, some Florida policies would be higher priorities than others. The list of recommendations below starts with the most promising reforms based on these criteria.