How Florida districts fare in national school choice rankings

Once again, Florida school districts are well-represented in the Brookings Institution’s annual school choice rankings.

Five Sunshine State districts land in the top 25 of the think tank’s 2016 Choice and Competition Index: Pinellas, Duval, Lee, Seminole and Broward Counties. No other state has as many districts ranked so highly.

It’s worth a look at why these districts score well, and why they fall short of top scorers like Denver Public Schools and New Orleans’ Recovery School District.

Florida districts tend to score well for making options available to students, like charters, magnets, a full set of virtual options and private school scholarship programs.

They tend to miss points for things like providing common applications that allow parents to apply for all choice schools — including charter schools — through a single online portal. They also take hits for not providing transportation to schools of choice, and for not reporting student performance data online in a way that allows parents to compare schools easily.

On Wednesday, in one of her first major public speeches since becoming U.S. Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos chided top-scoring districts, like Denver, that offer a wide range of public school options but no private school choice programs. She also singled out low-scoring Mobile, Ala., which received no points for informing parents about options that exist.

“The report makes the distinction that simply having a choice program is not enough,” she said of the rankings. “It must be accessible, transparent and accountable to those who need it most.”

The report highlights ways that even the state DeVos often cites as a model could improve.

One Comment

  1. Cleveland Steamor

    How do you feel about her comments that choosing schools should be like choosing between ride sharing apps and taxis?

    That seems like a bad comparison to me. If I could take a crack at a metaphor, it seems like Devos would like us to choose between a City Bus, a Catholic Church van where you have to listen to a nun go on about religious history, or some dude who promises that his ride will be way better than a city bus, who has a website showing a Ferrari, but when he shows up it is a 1996 Geo Metro, with advertisements plastered over all the rust and dents.