School Choice in the Sunshine State – A Variety of Options

Possibly the only thing more appealing to parents than good schools is a choice of those schools within a superior system.  School choice allows a parent and child – along with the school districts – to best place a child according to their need and educational objective.  The State of Florida ’s Department of Education has a very liberal school choice program in place to accommodate concerned parents and their students.  There are a variety of programs available with differing criteria on which to measure and determine the best school for each child.


Participating high schools in Florida offer advanced placement classes for college bound high school students; if a student scores a 3 or above on the advanced placement exam, that student may earn college credits.  There are more than 30 college level classes available at the high school level to students who qualify and attend a school offering the advanced placement option.  Alternately, students may choose to enroll in the Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) Program.  Based on the British model of the college preparatory curriculum and exam, this program offers students the opportunity to earn college credits by passing the AICE exams.

About 40 Florida high schools participate in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program.  This 2-year, specialized program prepares students for international standardized testing.  Students who successfully complete this program may earn up to 30 college level credits while still in high school and will meet the entrance requirements of many universities around the world. This program is a wonderful opportunity for the student who desires to study overseas.

A number of Florida high schools offer the Career Academy program.  In this educational model, schools are divided into smaller learning communities based on the interests of the students.  Student application and parental approval is required for participation.    The career academy structure is a terrific jump start for the student who already knows what career direction he’d like to take, as well as a great learning situation for the young person who works best on a team in a closer-knit environment.  Classes offered are college preparatory with a career theme.  Employers and businesses in the community contribute to the program where appropriate as well.  Specific career categories vary by school.

Another option for the college bound student is dual enrollment.  In this scenario, the student enrolls in college level courses while still attending high school.  The credits earned through the college courses will be applied toward the college diploma as well as toward high school graduation.  All of Florida ’s 28 community colleges participate in this program as do a few of the state universities.

Finally, in keeping with an education that is tailored to the students’ interests, Florida sponsors magnet schools.  Math, science, performing arts, business or other interests are accommodated in the form of a specialized curriculum.  Each magnet school offers a single area of concentration.

Florida ’s public schools certainly have a variety of educational choices for prospective students.  Whatever the academic desire or career goal, Florida has a pre-college program in place to accommodate nearly everyone.