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Testing and Accountability

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...
tax credit scholarship

Setting the record straight on choice scholarships

As Florida senators get their first look today at a new private school scholarship for economically disadvantaged students, some familiar taunts about academic results for the existing Tax Credit Scholarship have resurfaced. Be wary of rhetorical flourish. Yes, the low-income scholarship students are not required to take the Florida Standard Assessment administered in traditional public schools. But they are required to take state-approved nationally norm-referenced tests whose academic validity is not in dispute. So those who claim “Floridians have no idea if private schools are succeeding,” as one South Florida newspaper wrote recently, are ignoring 10 years of testing data to...

Reviewing the past as a path to the future

Editor’s note: March 2 marked the 20th anniversary of the legislative session in which Florida Gov. Jeb Bush launched a series of K-12 reforms that transformed education throughout the state. (No, I can’t believe it’s been 20 years either.) Beginning today, as the 2019 Florida legislative session is set to open, and continuing for several months, redefinED will examine aspects of Bush’s K-12 education revolution. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It was 20 years ago today When Gov. Jeb Bush taught the ed reform band to play They’ve been going in and out of style But they’re guaranteed to get sued at trial So may I introduce to you The...

revisitED: Peace, love & accountability

Editor’s note: redefinED continues its journey through the archives, reviving on Saturdays interesting posts on various topics that deserve a second look. In March, we’ll feature pieces on school accountability, beginning with this one that shines a light on War on Poverty liberals who supported private school vouchers in the 1960s and ‘70s.    This is the latest post in our ongoing series on the center-left roots of school choice. The Great Society liberals who pushed for private school vouchers in the 1960s and ‘70s were all about social justice. They saw a tool for empowering low-income parents. For promoting equity....
academic standards

A modest proposal for Florida’s academic standards

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order recently to transition the state away from the current academic standards, which begs the question: What will replace them? I have a suggestion on that front, but first, some basics. Federal law requires states to have a set of academic standards and to test students against those standards in grades 3-8 and again in high school as a condition of federal funding. About a decade ago, a number of states adopted “Common Core” academic standards and tests, which eventually became quite controversial. As an education reform strategy, both center-right analysts like Erik...