Surveying Florida Scholarship Families
By Jason Bedrick, Lindsey Burke, Ph.D.
Florida’s tax-credit scholarship program serves some of the most disadvantaged students in the state. This survey explores the preferences and experiences of parents and guardians of Florida children using the program. As the largest-ever survey of participants in a private school choice program, it represents some of the strongest evidence to date of the views and educational priorities of parents exercising private school choice.
ADDITIONAL REPORT INFORMATION
In this report, you will learn:
The vast majority of Florida scholarship parents expressed satisfaction with the tax-credit scholarship program.To be exact, 92 percent of scholarship families said they were satisfied at some level with the program. Only 7 percent expressed being somewhat or completely dissatisfied. Nearly nine out of 10 parents expressed satisfaction with the school their child currently attends using a scholarship. Only 9 percent expressed dissatisfaction.
Families generally found it easy to find their child’s school thanks primarily to the opinions of their family and community.Almost 90 percent of scholarship families reported that it was very easy (73%) or easy (16%) to find a school where they wanted to enroll their child using a tax-credit scholarship. About three-fourths of parents reported they initially heard about the school their child currently attends through their own social network, including a friend or relative (50%), their house of worship (14%) and other scholarship families (12%).
Florida parents chose their children’s private schools because those schools offer what their public schools can’t/don’t.When asked to list the top three factors that influenced their decision to have their child attend their chosen school, the only factors to be selected by a majority of scholarship parents were religious environment/instruction (66%) and morals/character/values instruction (52%). These two highly influential factors were followed by a safe environment (36%), academic reputation (34%) and small classes (31%). The least important factor was standardized test scores, which only 4 percent of parents listed as one of their top three factors.
Florida scholarship parents are more involved in their children’s schooling now, but transportation can still be difficult for some.Among respondents whose children were previously enrolled in a public district or charter school before using a scholarship to enroll in a private school, most parents reported engaging in a variety of education-related activities more often than before switching schools, including: communicating with teachers (77%), participating in school activities (72%), volunteering or doing community service (63%), reading to their child (57%), using an online educational resource like Khan Academy (56%) and working on math homework with their child (52%). The vast majority of scholarship parents (80%) reported that a family member drives their child to school most days. A majority of parents (57%) reported that their child spends 15 minutes or less commuting to school one way while fewer than 1 in 10 reported that it takes more than 30 minutes.