BATON ROUGE, LA (July 23, 2012)—The Louisiana Department of Education today released a proposal that will institute a host of high-quality accountability provisions for any schools participating in the state’s newly-expanded statewide voucher program, further strengthening one of the nation’s most expansive private school choice offerings and giving greater transparency to Louisiana taxpayers.
The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice—praised State Superintendent John White and the Department of Education for creating the proposal, which is a necessary and valuable addition to the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence (SSEE) program. The Federation also emphasized its longstanding commitment to accountability measures as an integral component of all high-quality private school choice programs nationwide.
Strong accountability measures have been at the forefront of the Federation’s efforts in recent years, and the organization today reinforced its continued belief in the necessity to include reasonable administrative, financial, and academic accountability provisions in every school choice program to ensure sustainability and growth of the movement, proper and transparent use of taxpayer funding, and to clearly and effectively illustrate the academic progress children are making.
“We applaud Superintendent White and other elected officials for their commitment to making sure that this program works not just for participating families but for all Louisiana residents,” said Kevin P. Chavous, a senior advisor to the Federation. “Greater accountability means better and more sustainable programs and, in turn, providing more opportunities to the children who need them most.”
Previously existing accountability provisions—including the requirement that voucher schools annually report financial data, fully report enrollment numbers, and administer all state assessments to scholarship students—will remain in place. In addition, new provisions establish a common bar for student performance across the state and provide consequences for participating schools that do not adequately serve students.
Today’s accountability provisions come fewer than two weeks after the Department of Education announced unprecedented interest from families in the SSEE program. More than 10,300 applications were submitted during the program’s month-long enrollment period, the largest ever single-year application increase for a voucher program in history.
Nearly 2,000 students were enrolled in the program last year, when it was restricted only to families residing in Orleans Parish. After being expanded in April, the program now grants eligibility to K-12 students statewide who attended a public school labeled “C,” “D,” or “F” and whose families have a household income that does not exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty guideline ($57,625 for a family of four).