Educational choice is no longer an experiment in Florida

A new law that took effect July 1 expands Florida’s educational choice scholarships. A new opinion column in the Tampa Bay Times argues this is not a new experiment. The growth of educational options in Florida has been decades in the making.

Scott Kent, the Director of Strategic Communications at Step Up For Students (the nonprofit that administers the scholarship programs and hosts this blog), highlights Florida’s approach to academic transparency for educational choice scholarships.

He writes:

All scholarship students in grades three through 10 must take a nationally norm-referenced test approved by the Florida Department of Education, or the statewide assessment. Schools must submit these test results to the Learning Systems Institute at Florida State University, which publicly reports statewide learning gains for reading and math down to the private school level where privacy laws allow.

In addition, Florida’s new law expanding scholarship programs creates Personalized Education Programs (PEP), an education savings account for students who are not attending public or private schools full time. These students are required annually to submit a Student Learning Plan to their scholarship funding organization, and take a Department of Education-approved national norm-referenced test and submit results to the funding organization.

The use of personalized education programs is a new feature in Florida’s program, and it underscores a key dimension of education scholarship programs that are gaining momentum across the country. Families’ options are no longer limited to school tuition. They can now use the scholarships to purchase a variety of education-related goods and services.

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BY reimaginED staff