Florida’s changing landscape: 1.6 million students in Sunshine State choose education choice

Editor’s note: National School Choice Week 2023 kicked off Monday and continues through Saturday. The event celebrates K-12 options available to families while generating public awareness of the importance of ensuring that every child has the opportunity to find the best educational fit.

More than 1.6 million K-12 students in Florida – nearly 49% of the student population – are using the education option selected by their parent or guardian as an alternative to attending their traditionally assigned district school.

These findings come from the Florida Department of Education, which compiled data for the 2021-22 school year, and are reflected in Step Up For Students’ annual Florida Changing Landscapes report.


The number of students utilizing education choice increased by nearly 65,000 over the prior school year. Charter schools, which are privately operated public schools, remained the most popular option, followed by open enrollment and magnet schools, both district-run school choice options.

The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship fell from seventh to eighth place, trading places with Advanced International Certificate of Education programs for 11th and 12th grade students.

FTC’s decline was due to the enrollment increase in the similar, income-based Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Options. That program was Florida’s fastest growing, increasing by 101% over the prior year.

Public school open enrollment grew by 27% and AICE grew by 17%.

A decline in McKay Scholarship private school enrollment was due in part to the enrollment increase in the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students With Unique Abilities, which grew by nearly 35%. McKay was folded into the FES-UA program for the 2022-23 school year.

Full-time virtual instruction declined from a post-COVID high, falling 33% during the 2021-22 school year.

The Florida Department of Education used data from its Final Survey 2 as well as from its quarterly reports and program fact sheets published by the Office of K-12 School Choice.

Avatar photo

BY Patrick R. Gibbons

Patrick Gibbons is public affairs manager at Step Up for Students and a research fellow for the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. A former teacher, he lived in Las Vegas, Nev., for five years, where he worked as an education writer and researcher. He can be reached at (813) 498.1991 or emailed at pgibbons@stepupforstudents.org. Follow Patrick on Twitter: at @PatrickRGibbons and @redefinEDonline.

One Comment

Comments are closed.