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Fast Facts

    •Graduation Rate: 75.0%
    •Average SAT Score: 1457
    •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: $8,372
    •Public School Enrollment: 2,643,347
    •Percent Enrolled in Charter Schools: 7.7%


This state consistently ranks in the top ten because of its relatively strong charter law and plentiful choices. More than 27,000 children with special needs use private schools under a state program, and another 59,000 receive tax credits. A new Personal Learning Scholarship Account holds a lot of promise for parents to really be consumers of their children’s education. The state websites are easy to navigate to learn about schools and all the options available. 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 $289 million currently, which is allowed to increase annually with an automatic escalator clause. Florida is the second state to enact ESAs. The Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts allow parents of students with disabilities to receive a portion of their public funding deposited into a savings account for use for primary, secondary, or post-secondary education needs. In all, approximately 86,000 students are benefiting from school choice across the state. 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: Voucher Laws Across the States Ranking & Scorecard 2014
SOURCE: Education Tax Credit Scholarships Ranking & Scorecard 2014

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, and while growth has been consistent, problems have begun to arise. Over time, many boards have become increasingly critical of charter schools, restricting the ability of the charter sector to grow as robustly as demanded by parents. Having a university authorizer or even the state board as an authorizer would remedy that problem. In addition, the funding of charter schools in Florida has become increasingly inequitable.

SOURCE: 2015 Charter School Law Rankings State Analysis

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 the second-highest ranking in online learning. During the past legislative session, Florida passed several key pieces of legislation relating to digital learning. Among those, SB 1514 increased flexibility in enrolling in virtual courses, clarified the reporting and funding processes, and supported the study of students' technology needs. Florida offers numerous digital options, courses and services, for all K-12 students

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 if dismissed from their job, only have one opportunity to appeal. 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

School grades (A-F) for all schools are provided in a single, well-organized document. School-specific report cards themselves are lengthy and a bit tedious for parents to maneuver through. There is a dedicated floridaschoolchoice.org site, which includes all necessary information on choice programs in the state. Not all of the 68 school boards are elected, but those that are host their elections on the first Tuesday of November during the general election.

  • Charter Schools are innovative public schools designed by educators, parents or civic leaders that are open by choice, accountable for results and free from most unnecessary rules and regulations governing conventional public schools. For more information about CER's annual charter law rankings, click here.
  • School choice means giving parents the power and opportunity to choose the school their child will attend. States that give all parents the opportunity to choose the best school for their child – whether public, private, parochial or charter – ensure Parent Power!.
  • Teacher quality comes with strong, data-driven, performance-based accountability systems that ensure teachers are rewarded, retained and advanced based on how they perform in adding value to the students who they teach, measured predominantly by student achievement, along with skills and responsibilities.
  • Transparency in education means giving parents access to good and objective information about their schools, student and teacher performance and options.
  • The movement toward improving education in the U.S. today includes a strong focus on online learning, an approach that involves a myriad of delivery mechanisms via online tools for students, no matter where they live or attend school. Online learning is opening up classrooms to the world and ensuring students access to some of the best content and educators.
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