DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES 300 PERCENT INCREASE IN SCHOOL CHOICE ENROLLMENTS SINCE 2012

Oct 11, 2015

More than 8,000 Students Enrolled Since Statewide Expansion Four Years Ago

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education today announced a 300 percent increase in the enrollment of school choice programs since 2012. For the 2015-2016 school year, 8,228 students enrolled in schools participating in the Louisiana Scholarship Program, Tuition Donation Rebate Program, and the School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities, an increase from 2,005 in 2012. In 2010, lawmakers passed by Act 515, creating the School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities. During the 2012 Legislative session, Act 2 expanded the Louisiana Scholarship Program statewide and Act 25 created the Tuition Donation Rebate Program. While most states have either a state-operated scholarship program or a taxpayer-funded donation-based program, Louisiana’s implementation of both programs increases the overall number of high-quality options for parents.

Enrollment in the Louisiana Scholarship Program increased more than 5,000 students since statewide expansion in the 2012-2013 school year, representing a 290 percent increase over four years. The Tuition Donation Rebate program, launched in 2013-2014, increased more than 1,100 percent in 2015-2016. The School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities, offered in parishes with a population of 190,000 or more, increased nearly 88 percent over four years.


School Choice Program

2011-2012

2014-2015

2015-2016

Increase since
2011-2012

Percent Growth Since 2011-2012

Louisiana Scholarship Program

1,823

7,362

7,110

5,287

290.0%

Tuition Donation Rebate Program

N/A

63

776

776

N/A

School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities

182

311

342

160

87.9%

Total

2,005

7,736

8,228

6,223

310.4%



“Choosing where your child attends school is arguably the most important decision in a child’s life, and through initiatives put in place four years ago, more parents can now choose the school they feel is best for their child,” said State Superintendent John White. “Our parents deserve choices, especially parents in struggling schools or who have students with special needs and don’t have the money to consider another option.”

Tuition Donation Rebate Program

Created through Act 25 of the 2012 Legislative Session and launched in 2013-2014, the Tuition Donation Rebate Program has seen significant growth in enrollment, increasing from 63 in 2014-2015 to 776 students attending 104 participating schools in 2015-2016, representing an enrollment increase of 1,133 percent in one year.

The Tuition Donation Rebate Program empowers low-income Louisiana families with the financial resources to choose the school that will best prepare their children for college and careers. This program provides rebates to Louisiana state taxpayers that donate to School Tuition Organizations, tax-exempt, not-for-profit organizations. School Tuition Organizations use these donations to provide scholarships to students in low-income families. Students apply directly to School Tuition Organizations for scholarships. Once they receive a scholarship, students then apply directly to the non-public school of their choice for enrollment.

Louisiana Scholarship Program

While overall enrollment has increased over the last four years, an accountability system that is more rigorous than that of public schools has led to a slight decrease from 2014-2015 to 2015-2016. For 2015-2016, there are 7,110 Scholarship students enrolled in 119 participating schools.

Scholarship schools with an average of 10 or more Scholarship students per grade served or a total of at least 40 students enrolled in tested grades receive a Scholarship Cohort Index (SCI) calculated in a similar manner to School Performance Scores and based on state assessment results. Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, any participating school receiving a SCI below 50 in the second year of participation or in any year thereafter is not permitted to enroll additional scholarship recipients for the next school year. Since last school year, the number of Scholarship students attending a sanctioned school has decreased by more than 1,000 from 2,596 in 2014-2015 to 1,568 in 2015-2016, representing a 40 percent decrease.

To view 2015-2016 Louisiana Scholarship Program enrollments, please click here.

School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities

Created in 2010 as a pilot program, the School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities was expanded in 2012 from grades K-8 to K-12. Since 2011-2012, enrollment has nearly doubled, increasing from 182 to 342 in 2015-2016, or 87.9 percent.

The program provides families of eligible students with tuition assistance to attend approved schools that offer exceptional needs programs. Students wishing to attend a nonpublic school in parishes with a population of 190,000 or more are eligible for this program, which includes Caddo, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafayette, Orleans, and St. Tammany. Participating non-public schools must be eligible to receive state funding.

For more information on the Louisiana Scholarship Program, please click here.

For more information on the Tuition Donation Rebate Program, please click here.

For more information on the School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities, please click here.

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