Editor’s note: Jason Fischer, a pro- school choice school board member in Duval County, Fla. penned an op-ed for today’s Context Florida in response to criticism of the testing requirements for students in Florida’s tax credit scholarship program. Here’s a snippet (and, full disclosure, the tax credit program is administered by Step Up For Students, which co-hosts this blog):
Tax Credit Scholarships serve underprivileged children. The scholarship serves 59,674 students in 1,414 private schools this year. What we know at this point is that the students come from homes that struggle, with incomes on average that are only 9 percent above poverty, and with the majority headed by a single parent. We know more than two-thirds are black or Hispanic.
More importantly, we know the students who choose the scholarship are among the lowest performers in the public schools they leave behind. And we know this: these same students achieve the same gains in reading and math as students of all incomes nationally.
That’s encouraging data, but detractors call it irrelevant and “inscrutable” simply because the students don’t take the state FCAT. While it would be simpler if all students in all schools took the same test, the nationally norm-referenced tests required of scholarship students are undisputed tools of academic measurement. Also undisputed is their ability to gauge whether students are gaining or losing ground to their peers nationally.
So policymakers are sometimes required to strike a balance. Full op-ed here.