More Than 7,300 Students Participate In Louisiana Scholarship Program
News organizations from around the world are arriving in Louisiana to cover the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. They want to know how New Orleans and the state have fared since August 29, 2005. Every aspect of the post-Katrina recovery is being scrutinized, including K-12 public education.
What has emerged in Louisiana during the decade following Hurricane Katrina is an education environment dominated by choice. Parents have been empowered to define the educational future of their children.
“The availability of choice programs, including the Louisiana Scholarship Program, means a family’s ZIP Code no longer determines if a child has access to a quality education or remains trapped in an underperforming public school,” said Ann Duplessis, president of the Louisiana Federation for Children.
Establish in New Orleans in 2008, and expanded statewide in 2012, the Louisiana Scholarship Program allows low-income families with students in failing public schools or students entering kindergarten for the first time to transfer to the private school of their choice. Participation in the Louisiana Scholarship Program has grown from less than 1,000 students during the 2008-2009 school year to more than 7,300 in 2014-2015.
Standardized test scores released by the Louisiana Department of Education show scholarship students’ scores have improved by 13 percentage points between 2010 and 2014, while public school students’ scores remained flat.
Since 2010, the percentage of students in the program scoring Basic or above has improved from 31 percent to 44 percent. Since 2008, the percent of scholarship students at the basic level and above in third grade English Language Arts has increased 24 percentage points, while math scores have increased by 23 percentage points.
“With options that include the Louisiana Scholarship Program, Course Choice program, Tuition Donation Rebate program, and charter schools; Louisiana parents are now deciding how and where their children are educated,” said Duplessis.