Slightly more than one in 10 Florida students attends private school, but like other school choice options in Florida, the proportion of private school enrollment varies widely from one school district to the next.
That diversity can serve as a reminder that there a complex set of factors that drive parents’ decisions about where to send their children. Take a look, for example, at the proportion of students enrolled in private schools, according to the Department of Education’s latest report on private school enrollment:
Click a district to show the percentage of students attending private school.
Two rural North Florida districts – Calhoun and Liberty – report zero private-school students. But that same region is home to an outlier at the opposite end of the spectrum: Jefferson County, where more than one in four students attends private school – a share of total enrollment that exceeds the next-highest district by 10 percentage points.
One obvious explanation: The district’s performance in the state’s accountability system (Jefferson’s F grades are frequently cited by parents asking the school board to transfer their children to neighboring school districts).
Another contributing factor could be the lack of charter schools, magnet schools, and other choice options in a district with a single public elementary school and one middle/high school. Private school enrollment plummeted this year in neighboring Madison County, the same year two new charter schools opened.
But those factors still don’t tell the whole story. Continue Reading →