Commentary: Giving Florida families an educational choice pays off in many ways

Special to redefinED

Editor’s note: This piece from Step Up For Students’ public affairs manager Patrick Gibbons appeared today on the Daytona News Journal.

In a column last month, a local member of the League of Women Voters argues it is hypocritical to spend $1 billion on private schools without knowing how well students are performing.

For 12 consecutive years education researchers have reported that low-income students participating in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship – typically among the lowest performers in their prior public school – have the same annual learning gains as all students, of all income levels nationwide.

As with public school students, these scholarship students are tested in reading and math in grades 3 through 10. The test results are given to parents and reported to the state, where the Florida Department of Education posts the results online each year.

In 2019 the Urban Institute released a report on the long-term impact of the scholarship program. The researchers found that scholarship students were, on average, up to 43% more likely to attend college and up to 20% more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree compared to similarly disadvantaged students in public schools.

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