School Choice & Charters

New Ranking Grades State School Voucher Programs

By Arianna Prothero — August 27, 2014 2 min read
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Cross posted from the Charters & Choice blog.

Indiana leads the country in terms of the best school voucher programs while Maine earned the worst marks in a new ranking by a research and advocacy group.

Looking at both the design and implementation of state school-choice systems, the Center for Education Reform analyzed over two dozen voucher programs across 14 states and the District of Columbia, giving each state a grade between A and D. (As this is the first year the D.C.-based center is ranking state voucher programs, it declined to give any state an F grade.)

Although Indiana earned the highest marks, Ohio and Wisconsin (the birthplace of modern vouchers) were not far behind with both earning A’s as well. Vermont joined Maine at the bottom of the pack with a D grade. Both of those states have legacy programs (Vermont’s dates back to the 17th century) which offer vouchers to students in towns that don’t have any district schools.

Of course, all rankings are based on your definition of what’s good. The CER defines a successful voucher program as one that allows all students in a state to qualify, has no caps on the number of vouchers that can be awarded, allows full public funding per student to be portable, and preserves the autonomy of the participating private schools.

With that in mind, here’s the full ranking of states with voucher laws based on a scale of 50 points:

  • Indiana (A grade with 31 points)
  • Ohio and Wisconsin (A grade with 30 points each)
  • District of Columbia, North Carolina, and Arizona (B grade with 27 points each)
  • Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia (C grade with 23 points each)
  • Oklahoma (C grade with 22 points)
  • Colorado (C grade with 20 points)
  • Utah and Mississippi (C grade with 19 points each)
  • Vermont (D grade with 18 points)
  • Maine (D grade with 17 points)

It’s important to note that voucher programs are separate from educational tax-credit scholarships and several of these states, such as Louisiana and Florida have both. The CER ranked the latter set of programs in a June report, so while Florida, for example, earned a C in this report for its voucher programs, it earned an A for its tax-credit scholarships.

The CER estimates that out of 3 million combined voucher and tax-credit scholarships available to students nationally, only about 10 percent have been used.

RELATED: North Carolina Voucher Program Is Ruled Unconstitutional

RELATED: What Voucher Advocates Can Learn From the Charter School Movement

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A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.