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Monday, February 4, 2013

Will Florida private schools that take public money be held accountable?

From the Orlando Sentinel by Leslie Postal

Thanks to a new state law, private schools that take part in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program — a voucher program for low-income kids — can give their students the FCAT (or state end-of-course exams), if they want.
So far, they aren’t exactly tripping over themselves to get those testing applications filed.
There are more than 1,300 private schools that accept the Tax Credit scholarships this school year — but just two have applied, so far, to administer FCAT next year.
And only one of those schools, a small one in Homestead in South Florida, has met all the requirements and been approved to give state tests to its students, according to the Florida Department of Education.
Perhaps the lack of interest is of little surprise. Administering FCAT — and dealing with all the attendant security requirements — is a hassle many public schools, we’d wager, would gladly give up, if they could.
But Zoraida Villanueza, the founder and principal of Villa Prepatory Academy, said she is eager to give FCAT. Her school, for students in pre-K to sixth grade, is new, and she feels she needs to prove to parents that her school offers a quality education.
“It’s a way of showing data…an extra form of assessment,” she said.
All 136 students at her school (she’s expecting 220 next year) use the Tax Credit program, which provides private-school tuition scholarships to students from low-income families.
Asked about all of the DOE’s testing requirements (detailed here), Villanueza said her teachers would follow them as required by their own ”professional, ethical guidelines.”
Private schools have until March 1 to apply to take part in state tests given during the 2013-14 school year.


  1. I would imagine that anytime public money is taken there is sure to be some level of accountability. I did not know that private schools used public money. This is a good detail to keep in mind when deciding between public and private school for your children.

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