Fast Facts•Graduation Rate: 70.4% •Average SAT Score: 1447 •Average ACT Score: 19.6 •4th Grade NAEP Math Score: 41% •8th Grade NAEP Math Score: 31% •4th Grade NAEP Reading Score: 39% •8th Grade NAEP Reading Score: 33% •Per Pupil Funding: $8,952 •Public School Enrollment: 2,634,522
This state consistently ranks in the top ten because of its relatively strong charter law. Florida also has been a leader in providing educational options for children with broad school choice programs. More than 22,000 children with special needs use private schools under a state program, and another 38,000 receive tax credits. Parents will find state websites easy to navigate to learn about their schools and the options available to them. Florida also is the top scorer on Digital Learning Now’s index for online learning opportunities. While there is no parent trigger available and much work still to be done, Florida ranks high in affording parents power. These expansive opportunities pave the way for higher student achievement growth rates in the Sunshine State.
The John M. McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program is available to special needs students that have been enrolled in public school for at least one year. Florida’s other program, a tax credit scholarship, is income-based. There is a statewide cap of $229 million currently, which is allowed to increase annually when 90 percent of the cap is reached. That amount currently provides approximately 51,000 students with scholarships. The state also permits parents some choices among traditional public schools within their district, but to move from one district to another requires the districts to agree to such transfers, limiting their options.SOURCE: The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
Florida has the potential to have a very strong charter law, if only the state would allow independent authorizers. Currently, only school boards are allowed to authorize charters. Over time, many boards have become increasingly critical of charter schools, restricting the ability of the charter sector to grow robustly as demanded by parents. Having a university authorizer or a state charter board would remedy that problem. In addition, the funding of charter schools in Florida has become increasingly inequitable.SOURCE: 2014 Charter School Law Rankings and Scorecard
Florida is home to the most online learners than any other state and Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is the nation’s largest public online course provider. Florida has made great strides in creating policies to support online and blended learning, earning a B+ ranking from Digital learning now as the second-highest ranked state in online learning. Florida recently passed legislation to increase access to digital and blended learning options, creating a district innovation school pilot program, allowing students to enroll in online courses in other districts and removing restrictions to expand the digital course catalogue.SOURCE: Digital Learning Now!
Florida’s data system has the capacity to provide evidence of teacher effectiveness, and student growth and academic achievement make up 50 percent of their annual evaluations. These performance-based evaluations are used in all decisions regarding tenure (which no longer exists for new teachers), layoffs and teacher assignment. Seniority is no longer a factor in these decisions. Teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations are required to go on improvement plans, and may not have their contract renewed after two unsatisfactory evaluations.
In 2011, the state enacted a law that created a large-scale performance pay system and does not permit automatic pay increases for time in service or advanced degrees.SOURCE: National Council on Teacher Quality
Information on school report cards is easy to find, but parents will find it a bit tedious to maneuver through the website or to customize reports. Directories of choice and charter school options are easy to find and navigate. The 67 county school boards are elected on the first Tuesday of November during the general election.