The Fordham Institute took Florida’s McKay Coalition to task Monday for a survey the institute says “stoked emotions” about state tests at private schools that serve disabled students on state vouchers. In a post by parental choice program director Adam Emerson, the Institute chided the coalition for resisting academic assessment for the McKay Scholarship, which this year serves more than 26,000 students with learning disabilities and physical limitations.
“Virtually no accountability measures … exist in most of the nation’s special-education voucher programs, including the largest such program in the United States, Florida’s McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities,” Emerson wrote. “And the coalition of schools that oversees the McKay program appears to want to keep it that way — and it’s wrong to do so.”
Fordham remains a strong national supporter of parental choice, including charter schools, school vouchers and tax credit scholarships. But the institute also has called on the learning options to be held to account for the achievement of their students.
In its recent report, “Red Tape or Red Herring,” Fordham looked at the participation rate of private schools in voucher and tax credit scholarship programs in 11 states and surveys from 241 private schools that do and don’t participate, and found that testing requirements are not a significant deterrent. Only a quarter of the schools ranked state-required testing as a “very” or “extremely” important factor. The response rate among participating schools was 73 percent.
McKay countered with its own yes-or-no survey of Florida private schools participating in the state scholarship for disabled students. Its response rate was 40 percent.