Florida’s first voucher students are making progress, even though many were below grade level when the program started in 1999.
Most of Florida’s first voucher pupils have progressed more than one grade level on a standardized test for each of the four years they have been in the program, Roman Catholic school officials say.
Only two of 34 voucher pupils at Catholic schools have failed to meet that goal on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.
Sister Mary Caplice, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, credits a focus on basics and a tradition of discipline, structure and communication and collaboration with parents.
Students at two failing public schools in Pensacola were offered vouchers in 1999. Almost all chose Catholic schools.
Cassandra Galloway obtained a voucher for her son, Jonathan, in 1999 because he couldn’t read although he had Bs and Cs on his report card. He is now 14 and in the eighth grade at Sacred Heart School.
“He was on a kindergarten level,” Galloway said. “He’s still not on grade level in reading and spelling, but he gets better every day.”
A judge ruled against spending public money on religious school tuition, but the decision is under appeal.