Florida: Confusions, Constraints, and Cascading Scenarios

Research Report

Florida: Confusions, Constraints, and Cascading Scenarios

Abstract

This chapter examines implementation of the choice provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act in one rural and one urban district in Florida, where a similar state policy predates the act. Both the A+ Accountability Plan in Florida and NCLB aim to identify failing schools and offer vouchers to their student populations. However, the school evaluation standards differ. Whereas the A+ Accountability Plan emphasizes school improvement, NCLB emphasizes a performance benchmark. The case studies of the two districts show that these evaluation differences can lead to dramatically different ratings. This may undermine parents' confidence in school performance information. Also, the relatively oversimplified school ratings mask the highly complex bases that determine them. Parents need to be able to understand these complexities to be well-informed decisionmakers. The case studies also reveal a tradeoff between setting higher learning standards and the feasibility of the voucher program. (In Leaving No Child Behind? Options for Kids in Failing Schools, edited by Frederick M. Hess and Chester E. Finn, Jr. (89-111). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.)

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