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Testing and Accountability

Public school deregulation: How would it affect voucher support?

Florida’s school choice critics have long complained about Florida’s testing regime. They’ve even bundled this frustration with state testing, and other regulatory burdens, into their opposition to school choice programs like the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship or the new Family Empowerment Scholarship But what if public schools were subjected to the same light-touch regulations on testing that private schools accepting scholarships enjoy? Would critics be more likely to support school choice? Would public school leaders in Florida support school choice if they could substitute the Florida Standards Assessments for national norm-referenced tests? A new paper, “Deal or No Deal? The Effects...
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To compare state test scores, adjust for their demographics

Critics denying the achievement gains of Florida’s K-12 students often do so after comparing state achievement with a whiter and wealthier national average. Only one critic has been bold enough to actually single out a whiter and wealthier state for comparison with the Sunshine State. Lauren Ritchie, a columnist at the Orlando Sentinel, recently picked Connecticut, a state that spends more than $17,283 per pupil.  She has a family friend in Norwalk whose daughter attends an IB program for 290 students, where they learn Arabic, Japanese or Mandarin Chinese. (Orange County, where Ritchie lives, has three high schools with IB...

podcastED: Senator Jeff Brandes on the future of public education

If you ask Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) what he thinks the education world will look like in the year 2040, he’ll tell you it will be going back to the past. “I see us moving back to the one-room schoolhouse where we have students of different capabilities working with each other to help everyone rise,” Brandes says. The Pinellas County lawmaker pushes innovative education policies every year in the Florida Legislature, but new leadership more focused on education choice appear to be giving his ideas more traction. His signature education bill this session, SB 226, would expand a mastery-based education...

Accountability’s rocky legal road, Part 2

Editor’s note: March 2 marked the 20th anniversary of the legislative session in which Florida Gov. Jeb Bush launched a number of K-12 reforms that transformed education throughout the state. With the start of the 2019 legislative session earlier this month, redefinED embarked upon a series of articles that examine aspects of Bush’s K-12 education revolution and how it continues to reverberate. Today’s piece is the second of two retrospectives that chronicle the plan’s legislative roller coaster ride. You can read Part I here.  The critics strike back With vouchers deemed constitutional by the First District Court of Appeal and with an...

revisitED – Jeb Bush: Information is power for low-income parents

Editor’s note: Today, redefinED continues to review pieces published previously on school accountability. This post, which originally appeared in June 2016, features former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in an interview conducted by a student who attended school on a tax credit scholarship. All parents should have access to "consumer reports" on schools in their area — public or private, magnet or charter — and be able to choose among them. Once their children are enrolled in a school, they should get meaningful updates on how well they're doing. It might seem simple, but for too many parents, that's not how the school system works,...

Accountability’s rocky legal road, Part 1

Editor’s note: March 2 marked the 20th anniversary of the legislative session in which Florida Gov. Jeb Bush launched a number of K-12 reforms that transformed education throughout the state. With the start of the 2019 legislative session earlier this month, redefinED embarked upon a series of articles that examine aspects of Bush’s K-12 education revolution and how it continues to reverberate. Today’s piece is the first of two retrospectives that chronicle the plan’s legislative roller coaster ride. Part II is available here.     OPPORTUNITY AWAITS In January 1999, Gov. Jeb Bush’s recently announced “A+ Plan” was generating bipartisan praise. Democrats, school...

revisitED: Customization can lead to eliminating school grades and better accountability

The state of Florida’s latest annual report on the performance of students receiving tax credit scholarships contained these facts: 22.9 percent of scholarship students came from public schools rated “D” or “F” in the prior school year, while 30.3 percent of came from public schools rated “A” or “B.” School grades are intended to inform parents about the effectiveness of district and charter schools, but tax credit scholarship parents aren’t impressed. Apparently, most of these low-income and working-class parents are using other means to determine which schools will work best for their children. I was skeptical when Florida first started grading...

revisitED: Less school regs, more school choice

Consumer choice and government regulation comprise the two components of educational accountability systems. In the areas of home-schooling and private schools, Florida has struck a good balance between regulations and choice, but the public district and charter schools are overregulated. To achieve a more appropriate balance, public schools need less regulation and more consumer choice. The accountability system for homeschools is instructive for private and public schools. Parents must notify their school district in writing when they intend to create a home school program. They must keep a portfolio for two years of all the instructional activities and materials used...