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Voucher Law Comparison

 

School Voucher Laws: State-by-State Comparison

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia provide state-funded school vouchers to qualifying students. While each state approaches school vouchers differently, there are common questions states must address when developing their voucher programs. These include:

  • What will the program jurisdiction be? Will it be statewide? Will it be limited to certain areas of the state?

  • Which students will be eligible for a voucher? Will it be offered to low income students, special needs students, students attending failing schools, etc? Or, will every student in the state be eligible?

  • Will the voucher be only for students currently enrolled in public school? Or, will it be offered to students already attending private schools who otherwise meet the eligibility criteria?

  • What will private schools be required to do in exchange for accepting publicly-funded students? Will they have to administer state assessments? Will they have to share student performance data with parents? Will they have to receive official accreditation? Will private schools have to share their financial reports with the state? For what reasons will participating schools be allowed to reject voucher student applications?

  • Will there be a cap on the number of vouchers that can be handed out each year?

  • What will be the maximum dollar value of a voucher?

The following table describes how each state with an existing school voucher law has answered these questions.

(Download PDF)

State Information

Major Provisions

Student Eligibility Requirements

Previous public school attendance requirement

Private School Participation Standards

Cap on # of Vouchers Awarded

Max. dollar value of voucher

Arizona

Program: Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (2011)

Statute:
A.R.S. 15-2401 – 15-2404

Jurisdiction:
Statewide

 

 

- Students with certain disabilities
- Students living within the bounderies of a public school or district assigned a D or F under the school grading system
- Child of an active duty service member
- Students living in foster care

 

Yes

 

- Private schools are not required to administer state assessments to voucher recipients

 

No cap

 

90% of what the district would have received in state funding for each participating student

Florida

Program:
John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program (2001)

Statute: Fla. Stat. § 1002.39

Jurisdiction:
Statewide

 

- Students with certain disabilities
- Students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs)

 

Yes

 

- Must annually provide parents with a written statement of each student's progress
- Private schools are not required to administer state assessments but parents can ask that their student take state exams and the private school must cooperate

 

 

No cap

 

Equal to what a public school would receive for each participating student

Georgia

Program:
Special Needs Scholarship Program (2007)

Statute:
O.C.G.A. TITLE 20
Chapter 2 Article 33


Jurisdiction:
Statewide

 

- Students with certain disabilities
- Students must also have an IEP plan in effect

 

Yes

 

- Must have been open for at least one year or otherwise must get approval from the state on its financial stability
- Private schools are not required to administer state assessments but parents can ask that their student take state exams and the private school must cooperate
- Must report student assessment data to the state and to a student's parents

 

 

No cap

 

Equal to what a public school would receive for each participating student, not counting federal funds

Indiana

Program:
Indiana Choice Scholarship Program (2011)

Statute:
IC 20-51-4

Jurisdiction:
Statewide

 

- Students with a household income up to 150% of the free and reduced price lunch guideline (FRPL)

- Students with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and a household income not exceeding 200% FRPL

- Students whose neighborhood public school is assigned an 'F' by the state accountability system and have a household income not exceeding 150% FRPL

- Students who previously received ether a voucher or tax credit scholarship with household income not exceeding 200% FRPL.

 

 

- Yes, student must have attended public school previous two semesters

- This requirement is waived for students whose neighborhood school receives an 'F' grade by the state

- This requirement is waived If a student received a tax credit scholarship the previous school year 

 

- Must be accredited by the state or a regional accrediting agency
- Schools must administer state assessments to scholarship recipients
- Schools will be included in the state school grading system
- Schools must implement annual teacher performance evaluation plans

 

15,000

 

- 90% of the state per-pupil funding for students that qualify for FRPL
- 50% of the state per-pupil funding for students with household incomes up to 150% FRPL, or in the case where income is allowed to reach 200% FRPL
- $4,500 for students in grades 1-8

Louisiana

Program:
- Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program (2008)
- School Choice Pilot Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities (2010)

Statute:
- RS 17:4011 - 17:4025
- RS 17:4031


Jurisdiction:
- Income-based voucher: Statewide
- Special needs voucher: only eligible in certain parishes

 

 

- All students with household incomes up to 250% of the federal poverty guideline and who attended a public school that received a school grade of C or lower under the school grading system
- Any student entering kindergarten who meets the income requirement
- Students in grades K-8 with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) who have been diagnosed with certain disabilities and live in an eligible parish

 

- Income-based voucher: Yes
- Special needs voucher: No

 

- Schools must administer state assessments to voucher recipients

- Schools with at least 40 voucher students in grades 3-8, or in high school, receive a performance score based on the test results of voucher students called the Scholarship Cohort Index (SCI)

- Schools that receive an SCI score less than 50 cannot enroll new voucher students the following year  

 

No cap

 

- Income-based voucher: Equal to the state per-pupil allocation
- Special needs voucher: Up to 50% of the state per-pupil allocation

Maine

Program:
Town Tuitioning Program (1873)

Statute:
M.R.S. 20-A § 2951 to 2955

Jurisdiction:
Statewide
 

 

Students residing in a district that does not operate any public schools, or does not contract with school's of another district

 

No

 

- If at least 60% of a private school's student attendance is publicly funded, the school must participate in the state assessments
- Must be non-religious

 

No cap

 

Equal to the statewide average per-pupil allocation

Mississippi

Program:
- Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship for Students with Dyslexia Program (2012)

 

- Speech-Language Therapy Scholarship for Students with Speech-Language Impairments

Statute:
Miss. Code Ann. Title 37,
Chapter 173

2012 HB 1031

2013 HB 896

Jurisdiction:
Statewide

 

 

Students in grades 1-6 who have been diagnosed with dyslexia

 

Students in grades 1-6 who meet the IDEA definition of having a speech-language impairment

 

No

 

- Participating private schools must receive accreditation from the state in the practice of dyslexia therapy or speech-language therapy
- The therapy must be delivered by a licensed dyslexia therapist or a certified speech-language pathologist
- Must provide parents of scholarship recipients an annual report of the student's progress

 

No cap

 

Equal to the state's base per-pupil allocation plus any state and federal categorical funding that participants would otherwise qualify for

North Carolina

 

Program:

- Opportunity Scholarship Program

- Special Education Scholarship Grants for Children With Disabilities

 

Statute:

N.C.G.S. "§ 115C-562

 

Jurisdiction:

Statewide

 

- Students with household incomes not exceeding 133% of the free and reduced price lunch guideline (FRPL)

- Students with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) who are not already placed in a private school at the district's expense

 

 

Yes, unless the student is a foster child

 

Opportunity Scholarship Program:

- Must administer state assessments or an equivalent exam to voucher students and report results to the state

- Must report graduation rates of voucher students to the state

- Must provide parents of voucher students an annual progress report including standardized assessment scores

- Private schools with 25+ voucher students must publicly report aggregate student assessment data

- Cannot charge voucher students higher tuition/fees than non-voucher students

- These requirements do not apply to schools participating in the Special Education Scholarship Grants program

 

 

Opportunity Scholarship Program:

- No, but limited to the amount appropriated by the legislature

- After all prior voucher recipients are funded, at least 50% of remaining funds msut be used to fund students with household incomes not exceeding 100% FRPL

- No more than 35% of remaining funds can be used for voucher students entering kindergarten of 1st grade

 

Special Education Scholarship Grants

Program: 

- No Cap

 

 

Opportunity Scholarship Program:

- Students with household incomes not exceeding 100% FRPL can receive up to $4,200

- Students with household incomes between 100-133% FRPL receive 90% of the private school tuition/fees up to $4,200

 

Special Education Scholarship Grants Program:

$3,000 per semester

 

Ohio

Program: 
- Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program (1995)
- Educational Choice Scholarship Program (2005)
- Autism Scholarship Program (2003)
- Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program (2011)

Statute:
- O.R.S. § 3313.974 to 3313.979
- O.R.S. § 3310.01 to 3310.17
- O.R.S. § 3310.41
- O.R.S. §3310.51 to 3310.64


Jurisdiction:
Statewide

 

 

- Any student living in the Cleveland School District; priority given to students with household incomes under 200% of poverty guideline
- Outside of Cleveland,  students whose neighborhood school is low performing 2 out of 3 consecutive years, or students who have household incomes under 200% of the poverty guideline
- Statewide, public school students diagnosed with Autism; special needs students with a current Individual Education Plan (IEP)

 

- Yes, unless student is enrolled in a private school at the time it receives a nonpublic charter from the state and otherwise meets the student eligibility criteria
- Special Needs and Autism program participants must officially enroll in public school in order to receive a voucher

 

- Private schools must be designated chartered nonpublic schools by the state
- Private schools cannot charge tuition above the value of the voucher to students with household incomes under 200% of the poverty guideline
- Chartered nonpublic schools must administer state assessments to voucher recipients
- For Special Needs and Autism programs, private education providers must be approved by the State Board of Education

 

 

- In Cleveland there is no cap
- Under the Education Choice Scholarship Program there is a cap of 60,000 vouchers
- The Autism Scholarship Program has no cap
- The Special Needs Scholarship Program cannot issue scholarships to more than 5% of all Ohio students who qualify

 

Cleveland and EdChoice Programs:
Grades K-8: $4,250
Grades 9-12: $5,000
Autism and Special Needs Programs: $20,000

Oklahoma

Program:
Lindsey Nicole Henry Students with Disabilities Scholarship Program (2010)

Statute:
70 O.S. § 13-101.1

Jurisdiction:
Statewide
 

 

Any student with a disability who has an Individualized Education Plan          

 

Yes, the student must have spent the prior school year attending public school in the state

 

- Must be accredited by the State Board of Education
- Must have been in operation for one school year or providing the State  with evidence of financial stability
- Will be academically accountable to parents for meeting the educational needs of the student
- Adheres to its published discipline policy prior to the expulsion of a voucher student

 

 

No cap

 

The statute contains a funding formula that the State Department of Education must use annually to determine the max dollar value of the voucher

Utah

Program:
Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship Program (2005)

Statute:
U.C.A. 53A-1a-702 to 710

Jurisdiction:
Statewide

 

- Students with certain disabilities that also have an Individual Education Plan (IEP)

 

Yes

 

- Must show evidence of financial stability
- Must administer an annual assessment of each voucher student's academic progress and report the results to the student's parents
- All participating schools must first apply to the state for approval

 

 

No cap

 

Depending on the amount of special services the student needs, vouchers can be between 150% and 250% of the weighted per-pupil state allocation

Vermont

Program:
Town Tuitioning Program (1869)

Statute:
16 V.S.A. § 821 - 836

Jurisdiction:
Statewide

 

 

Must live in a district that does not operate either an elementary school or a high school, and where the voters of the district have approved the use of public funds for private school tuition

 

No

 

- Private school must meet state school quality standards
- Can be a school located in the state or outside of the state

 

No cap

 

The voucher cannot exceed the average announced tuition of Vermont public schools

Wisconsin

Program:
- Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (1990)
- Racine Parental Choice Program (2011)

- Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (2013)


Statute:
- W.S. § 119.23
- W.S. § 118.60

Jurisdiction:
Statewide
 

 

Living in Milwaukee and Racine: 

- Any student with household incomes up to 300% of the federal poverty guideline


Living outside of Milwaukee and Racine:
- Any student with household incomes up to 185% of the federal poverty guideline

 

- Only for students living in Racine school district

 

- Participating schools must obtain accreditation by a private school accrediting agency
- Schools must provide at least 1,050 hours of direct instruction in grades 1-6 and 1,137 hours in grades 7-12
- Schools cannot reject program applicants for any reason other than not having space available
- Schools cannot charge any tuition on top of the voucher for students in grades K-8, or for students in grades 9-12 with household incomes up to 220% of the poverty guideline
- A series of minimum student performance requirements must be met by each participating school
-  Participating schools must administer state assessments to all students enrolled in the private school

 

 

- No cap in Milwaukee or Racine

Wisconsin Parental Choice Program:
- Limited to 500 students in 2013-14 school year
- Limited to 1,000 students in 2014-15 school year
- No more than 1% of a single district's enrollments can receive vouchers (doesn't apply to Milwaukee and Racine)

 

- $6,442 in 2013-14 school year

- $7,210 for grades K-8 and $7,856 for grades 9-12 in 2014-15 school year 

-Increases by an amount equal to the increase in state public school funding starting in 2015-16 school year 

- The value of the voucher can never decrease from one year to the next

 

Washington, D.C.

Program:
D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (2004)

Statute:
H.R.1473, 112th Cong. (2011)

Jurisdiction:
District of Columbia
 
 
- Students with household incomes up to 185% of the federal poverty guideline
- Current participants can remain in the program each year unless their household income surpasses 300% of the poverty guideline

 

No

 

- Must provide parents with an annual report of their student's academic progress
- Must administer the assessment approved by the independent evaluator that tracks student performance in the program

 

No cap

 

- Grades K-8: $8,136
- Grades 9-12: $12,205
Maximum will increase annually with inflation











 
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