Florida Senate President Don Gaetz says he wants low-income students on the Tax Credit Scholarship to take a different standardized test, but his message has gotten a bit garbled in translation.
Somehow, the word “different” keeps disappearing.
Gaetz is raising a perfectly legitimate issue – whether a proposed expansion of the 12-year-old scholarship program for economically disadvantaged students should include a requirement that the scholarship students take the same standardized test the state is getting ready to roll out for public students in 2015. That test will be tied to Florida’s version of the Common Core standards. Currently, scholarship students are taking nationally-normed standardized tests approved by the state.
Somehow, even some of the state’s best newspapers have gotten this distinction wrong.
One report called Gaetz’s idea “a dramatic swing in Florida’s experience with school choice, where critics have complained voucher programs were diluting public schools with no evidence they were improving the outcomes for poor children.” Another said that “Senate leaders are proposing for the first time that scholarship recipients take standardized tests.” An editorial asked of the academic achievement in the program: “How do we know”
This is important because the error feeds a narrative – there is “no evidence” the scholarships are helping children – that is wrong. (For the record, the scholarship program is administered by Step Up For Students, which co-hosts this blog.) Continue Reading →