WEBINAR: Learning from Parents’ Experiences with School Choice for Students with Disabilities

CERES Institute for Children & Youth

Sign up to attend this webinar on June 3, 2021 from 3:00–4:00 pm EST.

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 McKay and Gardiner Scholarships. In 2020, over 30,000 families received the McKay Scholarship and over 16,000 received the Gardiner scholarship. The Florida legislature recently passed a bill to combine these programs with a scholarship for low-income families and expand access to additional families. 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 conducted a mixed-methods study of parents’ experiences with the McKay & Gardiner Scholarships, interviewing nearly 100 Florida parents and surveying over 3000 more. The findings from this study are presented in Choices & Challenges: Florida Parents’ Experiences with the State’s McKay and Gardner Scholarship Programs for Students with Disabilities.

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.

Sign up to attend the conversation with local and national researchers and policy experts on Thursday, June 3rd at 3 PM EST as we discuss choice, equity, and opportunity for students with disabilities.


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

Registration is now open for the webinar.


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