Choices & Challenges: Learning from Parents’ Experiences with School Choice for Students with Disabilities

3:00 pm on Thursday, June 3, 2021
4:00 pm on Thursday, June 3, 2021

Join local and national researchers and policy experts as we discuss choice, equity, and opportunity for students with disabilities.

Twenty-nine states nationwide offer school choice, which allows parents to choose alternative education placements for their children outside of their assigned public school. Florida is home to one of the largest school choice programs in the nation, and has two scholarship programs dedicated to students with disabilities. The FL legislature recently passed a bill to expand these programs. With the expansion comes the need to best understand how families utilize private school choice to support their children with disabilities to find the best educational fit.

Together with colleagues from the University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform, CERES Institute for Children & Youth released Choices & Challenges: Florida Parents’ Experiences with the State’s McKay and Gardner Scholarship Programs for Students with Disabilities, sharing findings from a mixed-methods study of Florida parents.

School choice can be thought of as a mechanism for promoting equity and opportunity for students with disabilities by enabling access to additional educational options to students. Choices and Challenges raises important questions and considerations about the process of accessing and utilizing the Gardiner and McKay scholarships and provides parent recommendations for helping more families get the most out of the scholarship program.


Dr. Shannon Varga, Research Assistant Professor, Boston University Wheelock College and Associate Director for Research & Evaluation, CERES Institute for Children & Youth Dr. Albert Cheng, Assistant Professor, Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions Doug Tuthill, President, Step Up for Students Meghan Whittaker, Director for Policy and Advocacy, National Center for Learning Disabilities