Billy Townsend: Florida has destroyed its *private* schools. Good luck shopping with that $8K voucher.
Billy Townsend keeps a close eye on Florida shenanigans. Here he notes how the private schools that are supposed to benefit from vouchers are not in great shape.
Florida’s most recent annual voucher evaluation reported test score “gains” for eight of the Polk County private schools that enroll more than 30 voucher recipients.
Six of those eight — including some of Polk’s most prestigious private school names — produced annual regression (negative learning gains) for their students using vouchers between 2017-18 to 2020-21. Their voucher kids went backwards on the tests scores submitted. See the chart that follows.
That 75 percent regression for Polk private schools is only somewhat higher than the 62 percent regression produced by the 314 private schools statewide for which the 14th annual “Evaluation of the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship Program” calculated gains. (If that link doesn’t work, grab it from this search screen.)
The “more-than-30 voucher kids” schools in the evaluation are a tiny fraction of all Florida private schools receiving vouchers — 314 of more than 16,000 statewide and eight of 108 in Polk County.
And yet, there is every reason to believe these failing private schools are among the best private schools in Florida’s appalling bad private system.
I did not know this annual FTC evaluation existed until last week. I’m sorry that I’m only sharing it with you now, not years ago. More on that in a moment. The new Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) also received its first evaluation in June 2022, for the 20-21 school year, as a “baseline” for future evaluations.
These negative gains for Florida private schools echo — but are even more pronounced than — Florida’s “Great Regression” on state and national test scores. Florida has the worst public school “learning rate” on state tests and worst regression on the national NAEP test between 4th and 8th grade, if tests are what you care about. Private schools appear much worse, based on these evaluations.