School choice in Florida
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| Education policy in the U.S. |
| Education statistics |
|State Education Information|
More students in Florida take online courses than in any other state. Other school choice options open to students in Florida include charter schools, homeschooling, scholarship programs, private schools and two public school open enrollment policies.
Educational choice options
Charter school authorizers are, according to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), the organizations "designated to approve, monitor, renew, and, if necessary, close charter schools." As of June 2014, the following organizations were listed by NACSA as charter school authorizers in Florida:
|Florida charter school authorizers|
|Organization||Authorizer type||Number of schools overseen|
|Alachua County Public Schools||Local education agency||15|
|Bay County School District||Local education agency||10|
|Brevard County Schools||Local education agency||10|
|Broward County Public Schools||Local education agency||99|
|Charlotte County Public Schools||Local education agency||1|
|Citrus County School District||Local education agency||1|
|Collier County Public Schools||Local education agency||3|
|Duval County Public Schools||Local education agency||20|
|Escambia County School District||Local education agency||8|
|Flagler County School District||Local education agency||3|
|Florida Atlantic University College of Education||Higher education institution||4|
|Florida State University LAB LEON||Higher education institution||2|
|Franklin County Public Schools||Local education agency||1|
|Gadsden County Public Schools||Local education agency||1|
|Glades County School District||Local education agency||1|
|Hernando County Schools||Local education agency||2|
|Hillsborough County Public Schools||Local education agency||44|
|Indian River County School District||Local education agency||5|
|Lake County Public Schools||Local education agency||11|
|Lee County Public Schools||Local education agency||25|
|Leon County Public Schools||Local education agency||4|
|Levy County School District||Local education agency||2|
|Manatee County School District||Local education agency||10|
|Marion County Public Schools||Local education agency||3|
|Martin County School District||Local education agency||2|
|Miami Dade County Public Schools-Charter School Operations||Local education agency||107|
|Monroe County School District||Local education agency||6|
|Okaloosa County School District||Local education agency||4|
|Orange County Public Schools||Local education agency||36|
|Osceola County School District||Local education agency||13|
|Palm Beach School District||Local education agency||42|
|Pasco County School District||Local education agency||5|
|Pinellas County School District||Local education agency||22|
|Polk County Public Schools District||Local education agency||33|
|Putnam County School District||Local education agency||2|
|Santa Rosa County Public Schools||Local education agency||2|
|Sarasota County School District||Local education agency||9|
|Seminole County School District||Local education agency||3|
|St. Johns County Public Schools||Local education agency||6|
|St. Lucie County Public Schools||Local education agency||3|
|Sumter County Public Schools||Local education agency||1|
|Volusia County Public Schools||Local education agency||8|
|Wakulla County Public Schools||Local education agency||1|
|Walton County Public Schools||Local education agency||3|
| Note: If the total number of charter schools accounted for in this table differs from the total number listed elsewhere on this page, the discrepancy owes to differing calculation methods and data sources.|
Source: National Association of Charter School Authorizers, "Florida Charter Authorizers," accessed June 18, 2014
Florida offers three scholarship programs that allow parents and students to choose among public and private schools.
- The John M. McKay Scholarship Program offers scholarship aid to students with disabilities. The program gives parents and students the option to select an alternative public school or to apply for a scholarship to attend an "eligible private school." In the 2005-2006 school year, 740 private schools across the state were participating in the program. The average scholarship amount was $6,897, ranging from $4,805 to $20,703.
- The Opportunity Scholarship Program allows parents and students to chose a "higher-performing" public or eligible private school if their current school is designated as a "failing Florida public school." A school is labeled as "failing" if it has received two failing grades within four consecutive school years. In the 2005-2006 school year, 55 private schools participated in the program. However, a January 2006 Florida Supreme Court ruling eliminated the private school option after concluding that particular option was unconstitutional.
- The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, formerly the Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship Program, was implemented in 2001. Through the program, corporations are eligible to receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit up to 75 percent of their state income tax liability, and the state may award a maximum of $88 million in credits each year. According to the Department of Education, the program was created to encourage private voluntary contributions from corporate donors to organizations that offer scholarships to low-income families. More than 23,000 students received annual scholarships to attend quality schools under a new bill signed into law June 2009. Under this new bill, donations to the program included contributions from "S-Corporations" (including insurance companies), who would receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits. The non-profits Foundation for Excellence in Education, the James Madison Institute, Foundations for Florida's Future, Step Up for Students (which combined Florida P.R.I.D.E. and Children First Florida), the Carrie Meek Foundation, and Florida Child were instrumental in the bill's passage.
An estimated 75,801 students were home-schooled in Florida during the 2012-2013 school year, which represented approximately 2.59 percent of all students in the state.
Florida requires parents or guardians who are homeschooling their children to notify their school district superintendent, to keep a portfolio of records and materials and to have the child take an annual education evaluation. The education evaluation can be administered by a certified teacher or any individual with a valid and active educational license, or the child can take a nationally normed student achievement test or a state student assessment test.
More students in Florida take online courses than in any other state. It was the first state to legislate that all K-12 students would have virtual options. The state offers district programs as well as fully online schools.
The Florida Virtual School (FLVS) was the largest virtual school in the country during the 2012-2013 school year. It was originally a grant-based project in 1997 and changed into a special independent public school district in 2001. The district is governed by a board of trustees appointed by the governor. The program is specifically geared towards home-schooled students, students attending low performing schools, students attending schools with limited offerings and students interested in graduating early.
In the 2011-2012 school year 306,866 students, or 11.5 percent of school age children, were enrolled in 1,705 private schools. Florida ranks 15th highest in the U.S. in private school attendance.
Public schools open enrollment
Florida has two open enrollment policies:
- The intradistrict/mandatory policy allows students attending state-designated low-performing schools to use an opportunity scholarship to attend a higher-scoring public school, a private school or a parochial school.
- The interdistrict/voluntary policy allows school districts to offer controlled open enrollment, which gives higher weight to a parent's indicated school preference when assigning schools.
Education ballot measures
Ballotpedia staff have tracked no statewide ballot measures relating to school choice in Florida.
Studies and reports
ABCs of School Choice
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice publishes a comprehensive guide to private school choice programs across the U.S. In its 2014 edition, the Foundation reviewed Florida's John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program and Florida's tax credit scholarship program. The John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program gives vouchers to students with disabilities or 504 plans so that they can attend private school or other public schools. The Foundation found that the John M. McKay Scholarships program has solid funding power and is limited only in that it is offered exclusively to students with disabilities. Florida's tax credit scholarship program gives tax credits to corporations who donate to Scholarship Funding Organizations (SFOs). The Foundation found that the program is limited because it is only offered to students who qualify for free or reduced lunches or to students who are in foster care. The Foundation recommends the program increases student eligibility. The full Friedman Foundation report can be found here.
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Florida + Education + Choice"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Florida state budget
- Florida Department of Education
- Florida school districts
- Education Policy in the U.S.
- School bond and tax elections in Florida
- Florida State Board Rules Under Review
- Florida School Choice
- Florida School Accountability Reports
- Florida Department of Education Budget Office
- Florida Council of Independent Schools
- Florida Public School Rankings by PSK12
- Florida State School Ratings by Great Schools
- Foundation for Excellence in Education website
- James Madison Institute website
- Step Up for Students website
- The Carrie Meek Foundation website
- Florida State Education Data Profile
- Florida vendors
- Get Lean Florida
- Florida Sunshine Manual
- Florida's Merit Award Legislation
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "School Choice and Charters," accessed June 18, 2014
- Friedman Foundation for School Choice, "What is School Choice?" accessed June 18, 2014
- National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, "Total Number of Schools: 2012-2013 Florida," accessed June 23, 2014
- National Association of Charter School Authorizers, "Florida Charter Authorizers," accessed June 18, 2014]
- Florida Department of Education, "School Choice Options," accessed June 24, 2009
- Florida Supreme Court, "Case No. SC04-2323," January 5,2006
- Florida State Senate, "Florida Statute 220.187"
- A2Z Home's Cool - Home Education from A to Z, "How Many Homeschoolers in America?" updated February 3, 2014
- A2Z Home's Cool - Home Education from A to Z, "Florida Home School Laws," accessed June 19, 2014
- 2013 Florida Statutes, "Title XLVIII, Chapter 1002, Section 41," accessed June 19, 2014
- Keeping Pace with K-12 Online & Blended Learning, "Data & Information: Florida," accessed June 19, 2014
- U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "Private School Universe Survey (PSS)", 2011-12 ; "Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey", 2011-12 v.1a; "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a., accessed May 12, 2014.
- Education Commission of the States, "Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," accessed June 19, 2014
- The Friedman Foundation for Education Choice, "The ABCs of School Choice," 2014 Edition