Latest Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Report Released

standardized_testThere is a new FTC scholarship program evaluator this year.  Florida State University’s Learning Systems Institute took over from Northwestern’s University’s David Figlio.

Are the results for the 2013-14 data different?

The first difference I noted was that FSU’s report provided more numbers for students in different categories.  There were 59,822 in 1,429 schools.  Scholarships awarded totaled $344.8 million.  Given that students in public and private schools take different annual tests, comparative achievement scores are not appropriate.  Private schools may choose among 15 different nationally normed tests.  There was no mention in the study that the scores on these tests were equated.  Whether tests had comparable difficulty and/or similar norm groups was not addressed.

More numbers do not mean better scores.  On average, FTC students score below the national average.  FTC achievement gains are variable, not  only among students but also among schools.  Students on average, made the expected annual gains in math and slightly higher gains in reading (0.4%) compared to the national group taking each test.  There was wide variability among schools and students’ scores.

Key findings include:

  • 1,205 private schools participated in the evaluation.  Students in grades 3-10 took one of fifteen possible tests.  There were 30,036 students eligible to test and 27,020 scores were received.  Fifty-six percent of the students took the Stanford Achievement Test.  The Iowa Test of Basic Skills (26.3%) and the Terra Nova (11.3%) were the next most frequently administered.
  • 25% of the students came from D or F schools, and 23.4%  were in the bottom fifth in reading compared to 21.3% in public schools.  Thus, the FTC students had somewhat lower achievement scores than eligible students in public schools.
  • Students who struggle the most leave private schools. Compared to eligible students who did not leave, FTC returnees did less well 36.2 reading and 34 in math compared to 42.1 and 42.9 math  (Former FTC students on prior FCAT 37.7 reading 35.7 math.
  • Gain scores were calculated for 15,799 students in reading and one more in math.  About 11% gained 20 percentage points in reading and 11% lost 20 points.  In math there 12.4% who gained 20 percentage points and 13.4% who lost 20 percentage points.
  • 96/150 schools had negative gains scores between 2011-13.  Negative gains indicated that the average gain was less than the expected one year increasse in learning.  Most schools did not have at least 30 students with valid data to compare the same students for three years.

You can find the number of FTC private schools and students by county here.  Slightly more than half of students are enrolled in K-3 grades.  The percentage for each grade level is highest at kindergarten (14.7%) and decreases about one percentage for each grade level.  Thus, 1.9% are in twelfth grade. ( Alachua County has 481 FTC students in 20 private schools.)





Posted in Achievement, Florida, Research studies, Tax credit scholarships.

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