Florida ranks in the top 10 states nationwide for school-system safety, but trails behind on school-system quality, according to a new report.
The WalletHub report released this week rated Florida No. 8 for school-system safety out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
School-system safety was measured out of 20 points, factoring in school safety, disciplinary issues (per 1,000 students), bullying incidents and youth incarceration rates.
Florida had one of the lowest bullying-incidents ratings nationwide, ranking second behind the District of Columbia for little bullying. There was a threefold difference between the states with the lowest incidences of bullying and those with the highest instances of bullying.
When it came to school system quality, however, Florida didn’t fare quite as well. The Sunshine State placed 21st nationwide out of school-system quality.
WalletHub measured school-system quality on an 80-point scale based on a variety of factors, considering the presence of states’ public schools within the US News & World Report’s “Top 700 Best U.S. Schools,” dropout rates, pupil-teacher ratios and standardized test scores.
Florida had a score of 56 of 100 possible points between the school-system quality scoring and the school-safety measurements.
Massachusetts, which is generally regarded among education activists as having the nation’s best public school system, ranked first for both school-system quality and school-system safety.
School-system quality could have a significant impact on students in the long run. According to an Economic Policy Institute report, income is higher in states where the workforce is well-educated.
An educated population can have benefits in other areas as well. As a result of a quality education, workers who earn better wages end up giving more in taxes, helping state budgets grow long-term.
While the school-system quality ranking places the Sunshine State at nearly the 50 percent mark, Florida’s education system has gone through several changes over the last 20 years.
The state public school system once trailed the back of the pack.
While he was governor, Jeb Bush made education a top priority in the Sunshine State, implementing the now widely used "A" through "F" grading system as well as a scholarship program to provide vouchers for students with learning disabilities to attend a school of their choice.
As a result, Florida, which notoriously sat at the bottom of the pack in national education rankings, proceeded to perform better and better with each passing year of the education reforms. Florida has also narrowed the state’s achievement gap primarily as a result of Bush’s education reforms.
See the full set of rankings here.
Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.