Putting Education Reform To The Test

Florida Private Schools Do Not Want FCAT Requirement For McKay Scholars

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A majority of Florida private schools surveyed said they will no longer accept McKay Scholarships if the schools must give those students the FCAT.

A coalition of private schools which accept publicly funded scholarships for students with disabilities says a majority of their members would no longer take the scholarships if they were required to administer the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

In a letter posted on the redefinED blog, the Coalition of McKay Scholarship Schools says their member survey results conflict with the conclusions of a study by The Fordham Institute.

From the letter:

The Coalition sent a survey to the 1,155 participating McKay Scholarship schools in February. It received 474 responses, representing approximately 40 percent of the McKay schools. Results indicate that 1) nearly all of the schools are conducting norm-referenced assessments of their students; 2) these education professionals do not believe the FCAT is an appropriate measure for their students with disabilities; and 3) 61 percent of the schools responding reported they would no longer participate in the McKay Scholarship Program if required to give the FCAT to their students.

The McKay Scholarship Program was designed so parents of children with disabilities would be able to identify and participate in programs that would meet the needs of their children. Many parents choose to participate in the McKay program because they do not believe the FCAT and a one-size-fits-all approach to education are in the best interest of their children who have disabilities and do not fit the “norms.” The McKay Scholarship Program has been very successful and popular with parents because it provides them with the ability to choose a school that best meets the unique needs of their children.

Indiana is among the states which requires some private schools to administer the state’s standardized test. Gov. Rick Scott has said he believes any private school which accepts public funding should have to administer the new Florida standardized test scheduled to start in the spring of 2015.

The Coalition of McKay Scholarship Schools says 97.5 percent of schools surveyed administer a test approved by the Florida Department of Education “or another educationally appropriate measure” to their students.

You can read the full survey results here.


  • If private schools take state money, they are not totally private schools any more, and should have to meet state requirements. We have to listen to how splendid the private schools are in education, so let’s see it!

    • OK with being Different

      The school I work for takes the children who are not easily controlled by the public school. The parents have been phoned daily by their public school regarding their child’s behavior, but don’t quite “fit” in a different public school program. These are some of your autistic spectrum children, your bi-polar children, your OCD children, children with medically recognized conduct disorders and mental disorders of all types… not just more easily controlled ADHD and ODD children. Young children whose schools have had to use police officers to control them as early as kindergarten… although they are coming from the finest of home environments… Most have been left behind two years by the second or third grade… and parents are desperate when they come to us. We have children with cancer who miss a lot of school, children with pacemakers, children whose lives are different….Please think of our school and teachers like us before making such a blanket opinion…an FCAT approach is not realtistic.

    • FEED UP

      You have to remember the private schools are not just taking the state money. The state the one that offer the mckay program to help those in need of better education to help kids with learning disabilities. They gave the parents a choice with no strings attach and the private school the option to accept it with having to change they teaching technique that they are using. The state fcat is just something put in place to fail these kids. I have parents that pays faithfully every month out of there pocket for private school with no help from the state. Is it fair that they child has to take the fcat because of the option of the government program. Hell no!!!! So I do not agree with the governor or anyone else since they kids are grown now. I bet you couldn’t tell them what they money could have bought. I will vote HELL NO TO THE FCAT IN PRIVATE SCHOOL ANYTIME BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT FULLY FUNDED BY THE GOVERNMENT. IF THAT IS THE CASE EVERY ONE THAT GOES TO COLLEGE ON A GRANT OR SCHOLARSHIP SHOULD HAVE TO TAKE AN FCAT…….

    • Annika4

      That is neither fair nor equal. What you speak of is akin to asking an elephant (McKay recipients with special needs) and a monkey (neurotypical non-McKay students) to both be tested in the same manner, like a tree climbing test. Putting such a requirement on McKay recipients is ludicrous. The disabled face enough challenges without society adding more stumbling blocks because of misguided perverted jealousy or people’s perceived loss of “their” money. Get real everyone, even if no tax dollars were used, you still would have to pay the same amount in taxes.

      “The measure of a society is found in how they treat their weakest and most helpless citizens. As Americans, we are blessed with circumstances that protect our human rights and our religious freedom, but for many people around the world, deprivation and persecution have become a way of life.”
      ~James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr.

      I have paid taxes for public school even though I have never used the public school system and homeschooled three of my children for ten years. Now that I have a child with severe autism, we are planning to apply for the McKay Scholarship to send him to a specialized school for autistics that, unlike public schools here, can provide all the therapies he needs, accommodate for his non-typical learning style, and address his sensory and behavioral issues.

      Anyone who says children with special needs (McKay recipients) should take the FCAT is either ignorant of whom the McKay scholarship helps, or ignorant about children with disabilities in general.

  • Jim Jackson

    The McKay Scholarship program applied to a very unique student population. Some of these students, commonly referred to as “fragile students” that require a 24 hour a day caretaker in and out of school are not able to take any typical achievement test.

  • Jinni

    I think its ridiculous that they want to make any child take the fcat public or pruvate a test doesnt determine if you are smart or not some kids dont do good in test taking i think a parent should determine wether their child is improving in a private school or not

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