Don Gaetz Caves on Same Accountability Standards for Florida Voucher Schools

Once thought to have drawn a line in the sand on holding voucher schools to the same accountability standards and are public schools, Sen. Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) has apparently changed his mind. From Marcia Lane in the St. Augustine Record:

But the latest House version does not include a testing requirement for students receiving vouchers, or “tax credit scholarships” as they are also called. Gaetz said Friday that the Senate is “willing to listen” to the latest House proposal but said a testing requirement needs to be part of the bill. Gaetz stressed that he is not insisting that students at the private schools take FCAT, which is on the verge of being phased out to a new test. But he said it has to be a “common assessment” that will “provide an accurate report to parents as to where their children stand compared to other children in other schools.”

“The program has grown to a place where it is no longer an experiment,” Gaetz said. “It is no longer a pilot. It is an accepted way for families to exercise choice in education.”

Emphasis mine.

The Step Up for Students/redefinED gang must be slapping high fives this morning as Gaetz has been pressured into seeing things their way.  Up until Friday, the senate president had been firm in that voucher schools would have to take the same tests as public schools. Gaetz “common test” wiggle room aligns with talking points of state voucher proponents who have been saying that a norm-referenced test shows that same thing that whatever Florida test public schools take. Just take their word for it.



About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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4 Responses to Don Gaetz Caves on Same Accountability Standards for Florida Voucher Schools

  1. Makes sense…

    Wouldn’t want to risk holding Jeb Bush’s Chamber of Commerce campaign contributors or Joe Biden’s brother to the same standards as public schools..

    As Indiana and Florida found out with Tony Bennett, direct comparisons are harder to manipulate without getting caught..

  2. Mama Bear says:

    I have to wonder why ANY parent would not want their child tested to make sure he or she is receiving a quality education. There is that caveat.

    However, looking from another angle. College boards provide an accurate picture of whether a student has learned anything or not in the 12-13 years in school.

    AND, any child wishing to re-enter the public school system should take a test BEFORE re-entering. That test should determine placement.

    One thing that must be stressed with parents, if charters don’t have mandated testing, they are on a tight wire without a net below. The testing at least gives parents some recourse.

    • Earl says:

      As a parent I can tell you why I oppose testing as a measure of student and school success:

      1. Student scores on tests are a poor indicator of education quality.
      2. Student scores on a single test tell us very little about what a student actually has mastered.
      3. College boards do not provide an accurate picture of either student knowledge entering college nor are they a good predictor of future outcomes. That is why more and more colleges are placing far less weight on a students ACT/SAT scores, and many schools no longer requires entrance exam scores.
      4. I do not want a 17 year old who can’t pass an exam in a class with my 9 year old. So much for placement upon re-entering school.
      5. Using tests to punish students, teachers and schools is an improper use of assessment, and any assessment expert will say the same thing. Placing a number on a student, school or teacher is an easy talking point but it is factually incorrect and harmful.

      There are three real issues here: first, tax dollars should not be going to private schools – who do not do a better job of educating students – at the expense of public schools.

      Second, if public money is going to be siphoned from public schools to go to private schools, those schools should be held to the same standards, whatever they are, as public schools.

      Third, those who are pushing this bill the hardest stand to profit from the passage of this legislation. A number of legislators, including Marc Fresen who is the sponsor of this bill as well as the chair of the Education Appropriations subcommittee has family members who own charter schools and stand to make a bundle if this passes.

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