Putting Education Reform To The Test

Half As Many Students Will Meet Tougher Bright Futures Scholarship Requirements

About half as many students will qualify for Bright Futures scholarships when the school year begins this fall as did during the current year, according to new estimates from the Florida College Access Network.

That’s because lawmakers have steadily increased requirements for the primarily lottery-funded scholarships, raising minimum scores required on the SAT and ACT college entrance exams. Graduates must score at least 1170 on the SAT or 26 on the ACT to qualify for a scholarship this fall. That’s up from 970 on the SAT and 20 on the ACT in the 2008-2009 school year.

The Florida College Access Network estimates about half as many students will qualify for Bright Futures this fall.

Florida College Access Network

The Florida College Access Network estimates about half as many students will qualify for Bright Futures this fall.

One in three high school graduates qualified for the scholarships in 2009. This fall, just one in eight graduates are estimated to meet new minimum required scores.

“The value and need for a highly skilled and educated workforce have been highly touted by our state’s leaders in Tallahassee this session,” Florida C.A.N.! senior researcher Troy Miller said in a statement. “If these sweeping cuts to financial aid are enforced as scheduled, our state will find itself at a competitive disadvantage.”

The reason is simple, according to state leaders: money.

“There’s only so much money to go around for education. If you’re giving a merit-based award, it should be to the top students in the state,” state Rep. George Moraitis, R-Fort Lauderdale, told The Sun-Sentinel.

The new requirements would cut the cost of the scholarship program to $180.4 million by the 2017-2018 school year, according to the Florida College Access Network estimates. That’s down from $429 million in the 2008-2009 school year.

Last year, University of South Florida research showed half of black and Hispanic students who qualified for the scholarships in 2012 no longer would have met the new, tougher requirements in 2013.

By comparison, about 40 percent of white and Asian students at state universities would no longer be eligible for the scholarship.


  • Nanette Standfast

    it’s always about money…….too bad that a college education will soon be out of reach for our young people..I am surprised that this legislature didn’t do away with Bright Futures for good…..that way the classes could really be divided and the Republicans could get their wish….all for them and none for the middle class!

  • Guest

    Sad!! Almost doesn’t make it worth the while for a student to do all the hours and then not qualify. College will be out of reach for the middle class. This just does not seem fair. Program no longer fair to ALL students. Neither is the Take Stock In Children scholarship.

    • Straight

      We may all be CREATED equal … but we do not have equal ABILITY !!Some students are gifted and don’t have to work as hard to get good grades or score well on a standardized test … but most others have to work very hard.

      Until schools stop giving grades that do NOT reflect true performance, US students are going to continue to have an over-inflated view of themselves and their abilities … even as our global standing slides gown the hole.

  • CrossEyes

    “Last year, University of South Florida research showed half of black and Hispanic students who qualified for the scholarships in 2012 no longer would have met the new, tougher requirements in 2013.” Ok, so how many whites? Let’s not skew the info here. REGARDLESS of ethnicity, shouldn’t the standard be the SAME? Why do we LOWER qualifications for any group? Adjusting requirements to suit a particular group only harms the overall quality of the outcome. This adjustment means ALL racial groups will have to do better. Not just Hispanics and Blacks.

    • Marly

      Might I quickly point out that right underneath the statistics that you have quoted, it then goes on to explain that in comparison “40 percent of white and Asian students” will be experiencing the same problem. Where is it exactly that you see the qualifications being lowered for a group? The qualifications are being RAISED for ALL GROUPS regardless of ethnicity. Unfortunately, due societal standards and economic hardships, it just so happens that hispanics and blacks may feel that harsher edge of the sword. While you’re at it, you might want to take a class in Schools and Society. It will really make it easier for you to read these articles and understand what is being said.

      • Straight

        One reason for this disparity across ethnic groups is because our schools cater to each student without regard to “standards” … which is why many children of color fail when it comes to standardized tests. Each child is allowed to write based on how he/she talks … and that doesn’t cut it. And children of color also fail when they move from school to school because there is NO standard across schools, even within school districts, much less within a state or across the nation.

        Schools are good at teaching the mechanics of learning, but they fail in providing the substance … and that’s what standardized tests are measuring … how well can you apply what you have learned.

    • Straight

      Different SAT standards are only considered in ADMISSIONS (that is called Affirmative Action) Black and Hispanic applicants are NOT held to the same standards as White Applicants … and even the SAT lists different scales for the different ethnic groups.

      There is SO MUCH money out there for those who NEED the financial help … but not necessarily for those who DESERVE the money … and that is what a “MERIT-based scholarship” is all about. Florida wants … and deserves … the best and the brightest … and that’s what Bright Futures is all about !!

  • Tdr Apollodreams

    Meanwhile, just two days ago, the local newspaper featured an article on the increased sales in Florida Lottery tickets. What a way to hurt our Florida students who need financial aid to pay for school. They want us to believe that they are increasing the academic standards, but that is not the case at all. These are only increased test-score standards. The GPA requirements remain the same. Another way to perpetuate test scores over academics. High test scores mean nothing and prove nothing, only that the student is good at a standardized-robotic test. Bright Futures make a great impact on a student’s chance of affording college, specially with the decrease in federal government student aid. If you want to change the requirements, then have the students take additional academic electives in a variety of areas, such as Math, Science, and Humanities, in order to qualify. That way you will obtain students with a well-rounded academic preparation, which will help them in college a lot more than a high SAT score.

  • concerned mom

    The changes really hurt. My daughter has a 5.3 GPA( advanced placement test), has never missed a day of school and was accepted into all of the colleges she applied to. She was considered one of the TOP 10 Freshman entering into her dream college, however she missed getting the BF that would assist with tuition by 1 point on her SAT (not a good standardized tester). This would have really helped out considering I just found out that my “now” ex-husband cashed out the Florida Pre-paid college fund without me knowing. Fortunately for my daughter, she did win some scholarships and I will have no choice but to fund the rest of the tuition with a parent plus loan. My heart is sadden by those who do not have these options and look toward the BF for assistance . Florida is pushing their talented students to out of state colleges that are offering very great scholarship packages and usually once they leave the state, they do not return.

    • MC

      Not being “a good test taker” is a copout. Your daughter has a 5.3 GPA because of an inflated grading scale. She could take either test again, study harder or fund her education herself by getting a job or taking out her own student loan. Or go to an in-state public school that doesn’t have inflated tuition prices. Lay off the helicoptering. It will do her some good.

    • Straight

      She could NOT have missed the cutoff for the SAT by just one point … the SAT scores in increments of 10 !!

      And yes, Florida DOES push many of its talented students out of state. A young man, first in his family to go to college, achieved the top Bright Futures level (2000 on his SAT) plus he was in the top 10% of his graduating class, and he still was rejected by the University of Florida. All because he was a white male. UF will not improve its standing on the national stage until it starts retaining the best and the brightest of its own.

  • concerned mom

    by the way, she and her best friend started with the same scores however her friend’s parents were able to enroll her in a SAT prep class that cost $3500. Unfortunately I just could not swing the cost. My daughter did do the free online prep courses but after three tries her scores remained the same. I do think when a student is that close the BF folks should take into consideration the academic history.

    • Straight

      Not all SAT Prep courses cost $3500 … many are a lot LESS expensive. Student who spend that amount of money are primarily motivated by the fact that they are paying that much and not self-motivated.

      Improving SAT scores takes a LOT of work … and most high school student I know are NOT that well disciplined. I worked with a student one-on-one for a two month period (two 2-hour sessions a week for eight weeks for less than $1,000) and his score improved by 600 points … ONLY because he followed the plan and did everything and then some. You HAVE to be motivated … otherwise you’ll just see a mediocre increase in your score … commensurate with the amount of time and effort you put into the process.

  • concerned mom

    just to clarify, my daughter did get bright futures award but can only be used for vocational school.

    • Student

      Did she do volunteer work?

  • Jeanne Caldwell

    I am excited about BF. What a great way to inspire students to work harder to achieve their potential, keep them close to home, and get parents involved in their children’s academics. Brilliant Futures is what I believe Bright Futures ignites. Is it a perfect fit for everyone? What is? Do I wish it would cover more? That would be wonderful too. BF is a great plan, I hope all my children decide to work hard to achieve it, and I will be helping them anyway I can. If, for whatever reason, they don’t make the cut, and they choose college but cannot secure a scholarship, we will do what our parents did…work and sacrifice to pay our way.

  • Concerend student

    im wondering will bright futures cover all of my college needs and what do i need to do before my graduation year 2018

  • Lauren

    if a student can score this high on the SAT and ACT, they can get a school offered scholarship!!! Why cut out the ones who may not be able to achieve this? it should be based on GPA and not test scores. GPA reflects effort and responsibility, while standardized testing reflects many things, not all positive. It basically reflects ability to do well on standardized tests, knowing how to do the things that are on that let’s face it, rarely have anything to do with our future careers, etc. That being written, GPA reflecting effort and responsibility should be rewarded and take precedence over the SAT and ACT because effort and responsibility is what will actually get you through both college and life itself.

    • Straight

      I don’t know what you are smokin’, Lauren … but there is such a wide disparity between the value of an “A” in one school vs. the value of an “A” in another that the only way to level the playing field is with a standardized test.

      Just one example … a junior I tutored had a 3.67 unweighted GPA, yet could not past the FCAT nor attain a 440 Critical Reading Score on the SAT. After working months with this student, it was very apparent that there was NO WAY this student deserved all those “A” in English … in honors courses, no less. There are many reasons why teachers inflate grades … maybe the student doesn’t cause any trouble, or he/she tries REALLY hard, or his/her homelike really sucks … but that does NOT mean they MERIT a good grade. This student is just one of many with whom I have worked over the years to whom teachers have been giving a FALSE personal image.

      Schools are under the gun to be “A” schools … and government funding is dependent upon those grades. But many grades are a severe distortion of the FACTS. How can a school justify getting an “A” rating unless more students than not are performing at an “exceeds” level across the board … and that INCLUDES standardized testing. There is a good reason why US student standing has decreased dramatically … and continues its downward spiral.

      • Alicia Eskanos

        So when my child {who is a straight A student} gets thrown off by the ridiculous and {let’s be serious} STUPID questions that are put into these horrid standardized tests about a talking pineapple, she should understand this to mean she is not GOOD ENOUGH ?? you should watch an interesting clip regarding these absolutely senseless exams. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6lyURyVz7k I’m sorry, I am against standardized testing. Wait a minute… I’m not at all sorry.

        • Straight

          You are against them because your child doesn’t perform well.

          Now that’s logical.

          Remember … these are “standardized” tests … and standards are NOT a moving target.

          • Alicia Eskanos

            She has received 4′s and 5′s across the board every year and is the top 10 percent in her grade, she is an accomplished flutist and has written and co/edited a 147,000 word novel. My youngest who is 12 took the SAT…yes, I wrote that correctly and performed 76 percent higher than incoming college students with a score of 2200. So no, it is not logical. Teacher salaries should be not be based on standardized tests. The classes should not be taught in-order to pass standardized tests. If scholarships are to be given, they should be based on an accumulation of academic, personal, social and community achievements.

          • Alicia Eskanos

            “A single test should not determine the success of a child’s school year in one swoop, any more than it should determine the grade for that school for the year. There are too many variables to consider yet testing is the only criteria by which a school (or student?) will be seriously graded. I realize there are other minor components that will factor into the grading of a school, but the main emphasis will be on the test scores.

            There are many things wrong in education not the least of which are laws that tighten control over our children while telling parents what’s good for them. I should not have to pull my children out of school in order to protect them from invasive and experimental testing.”

          • Straight

            EXACTLY … you should not have to pull your children out of school in order to protect them from invasive and experimental testing … or from anything else you find offensive … but you may have to make that CHOICE.

            After all, schools should be all about choice … for every parent. No one knows a child better than a parent … yet we have allowed the government to determine what’s best for our children far too long.

      • Eric

        Straight, I don’t know if you realize it but you are actually arguing Lauren’s point for her if you value merit .

        A student in a school with below average faculty that has to make up for it on their own to get a 3.67 is more meritorious (even if degraded somewhat by the grade creep you mention) than one who has the advantage of more effective teachers and therefore learns more in class with less effort.

        There should be some standardized tests during the school experience to guard against grade inflation and uphold high standards. But there should not be a standardized test to award merit based scholarships, or if there is it should be low in weighting.

        The effort of the student relative to his or her peers should count more otherwise huge amounts of students (and parents) where grad inflation is prevalent will be penalized through no fault of their own and without their foreknowledge.

  • Straight

    Our education system used to be one of the best in the world … now our students rank only 30th in math … 24th in science … and 19th in reading.

    A college education is NOT and was NEVER meant for everyone … unfortunately we have taken much of the vocational training out of the high schools … along with other basics.

  • Ira Jakob

    A lot of kids will not qualify for the scholarship because they aren’t aware or don’t want to perform the free child slave labor that is now a requirement to get the scholarship. The state of Florida doesn’t care about the kids that are top state intermural players, they would rather the kids drop out and do their time performing the free child slave labor instead to make the state happy. Whoever came up with this really stupid idea must have just finished reading Mein Kampf!

    This is a requirement that needs to be removed quickly!

  • Gina Stephens

    We voted this merit based Bright futures for those would perfumed well in school but not enough to receive scholarships. My daughter graduated today and had 3.5 unweighted and 24 on ACT …we will need to take out loans. once again , the public is duped by our politicians

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