Florida Gov. Rick Scott, parting ways with his fellow Republicans, asserted Tuesday that students who get financial help from the state to attend private schools should take the same standardized tests as public school students.
Scott made his comments a day before he is scheduled to speak to supporters of the state's biggest and most successful private school voucher program.
The governor, who has been a supporter of increasing the size of voucher programs, said he believes parents should have a choice of schools for their children. But he said those schools should be treated the same.
"I believe anybody who gets state dollars ought to be under the same standards," Scott said.
More than 50,000 students from low-income families currently get state help to attend private schools. The state provides tax credits to companies that provide the money for the vouchers. The program started out small, but has steadily grown with the help of the GOP-controlled Legislature.
Some Democrats have criticized the state's efforts and consistently demanded that students who receive vouchers be required to follow the same edicts as those in public schools. These include requiring students to take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which is used to grade public schools on an A to F scale.
But Republicans have steadily rejected the idea as an administrative burden since the majority of students at many private schools do not receive vouchers. Supporters of the current program also point out that students at these schools do take some form of standardized test, but not the FCAT.
Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up for Students, said many private schools may incorporate new Common Core standards that public schools are adopting over the next two years. Step Up for Students hands out the private school vouchers to eligible low-income families.