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November 02, 2009
In the early years of Ohio’s voucher programs, proponents of private school choice cautioned that schools wouldn’t participate if government asked too much of them in the way of regulations and accountability for student achievement. That was certainly a plausible theory at the time – after all, when the EdChoice Scholarship program launched in 2005, Ohio’s public schools were only just getting used to our increased battery of state tests. But evidence from a new report shows that the theory doesn’t hold true today, and that policymakers could pursue expanded accountability for private schools—especially when it comes to transparency about student achievement and progress.
The Fordham Institute’s national team commissioned David Stuit of Basis Policy Research and his colleague Sy Doan to examine closely thirteen existing voucher and tax credit scholarship programs and describe the nature and extent of their regulations as well as how many private schools participate in them (and how many do not). They also asked them to survey private schools in communities served by four of the country’s most prominent voucher programs (including EdChoice and the Cleveland Scholarship & Tutoring Program) to see how heavily regulations and program requirements weigh in schools’ decision whether to participate.
The result is the new Fordham report School Choice Regulations: Red Tape or Red Herring. What does it tell us?
Specific to Ohio, Stuit and Doan determined that:
Other key findings include:
Currently twenty-two thousand Ohio students attend a private school using a state-funded voucher. Two years ago lawmakers raised the cap on EdChoice vouchers to 60,000 slots statewide (reserved for kids in low-performing public schools) and launched a new special-needs scholarship. In his recently unveiled FY2014-15 state budget, Governor Kasich has proposed expanding voucher eligibility to children from low-income families and K-3 students in schools that fail to meet a minimum grade on the new early learning report card component. Alongside this growth in publicly funded school choice should come an appropriate increase in accountability of participating schools and whether they are helping students succeed. This report provides evidence that they open to just that.