podcastED: Progress report on nation’s first ESA for public school students

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The first year of a groundbreaking scholarship program foreshadowing the future of public education is in the books in Florida.

The Reading Scholarship Account is the nation’s first educational savings account for public school students. Every third-, fourth- and fifth-grade student in the Sunshine State scoring below a 3 on the English Language Arts portion of the Florida Standards Assessment qualifies for the $500 allowance, which can be spent on qualified tutoring, afterschool and summer programs and related reading materials.

Legislative funding for the program in the 2018-19 school year was capped at just over 19,000 students.

On this episode of podcastED, we examine the first year of the scholarship from three different vantage points.

Step Up For Students’ president Doug Tuthill, chief of staff Jen Canning and Reading Scholarship Account program manager Meredith McKay Hinchey discuss Year 1 of program implementation and management and talk about improvement opportunities for Year 2 and beyond.

We talk with Wendy Finlay and Diana Greenier, school leaders from Pasco County’s Dayspring Academy about utilizing the Reading Scholarship as part of their sprawling afterschool ENCORE program.

Finally, we speak with Central Florida Urban League president and CEO Glen Gilzean about Top of the Class, a collaboration between the Urban League and Orange County Public Schools to connect as many eligible students with the scholarship as possible.

You can hear this podcast below, or on the Apple Podcasts app. Thank you for listening.