Florida’s special education scholarship program needs more accountability, a school choice researcher argues, despite opposition from a coalition of schools which administer the scholarships.
Last week the Coalition of McKay Scholarship Schools said a majority of their members would no longer participate in Florida’s scholarship program for students with disabilities if they were required to administer the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The group also disagreed with the conclusions of a survey by the Fordham Institute that most private schools could agree with state-required standardized testing.
But Adam Emerson with The Fordham Institute says the McKay Coalition arguments against testing don’t hold up.
Most McKay schools already use a national standardized test, Emerson writes, so why not make the results public? And three-quarters of McKay students have milder disabilities, and would have received moderate accommodations during FCAT testing at public schools.
School administering the McKay Scholarship must submit to some degree of scrutiny because the scholarships are publicly funded, Emerson writes.
All this points to what motivates the McKay Coalition in the first place: maintaining the conditions that allow for as few regulations as is possible. Its previous statements about testing imply it believes that no method of public assessment or public scrutiny is permissible. To be sure, an innovative policy like the McKay Scholarship shouldn’t get in the way of a private school’s autonomy or its freedom to be different. But taxpayers shouldn’t be left in the dark about the educational value of the investment they have made.