School Choice & Charters

Voucher Students Should Participate in State Tests, Says Fordham

By Katie Ash — January 16, 2014 1 min read
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Private schools accepting voucher- and tax-credit-scholarship students should be required to administer state tests to those students and disclose the results, says a new report detailing school choice policy recommendations by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Only private schools that teach ten or fewer voucher- or tax-credit-scholarship students should be exempt from disclosing state test results, in order to protect the privacy of those students, the report says. And only those students receiving state funds to attend private schools should be required to undergo state testing, the report emphasized.

Requiring those schools to participate in state tests—and disclose the results—could improve student achievement, make it easier to compare programs, and provide parents with the information they need to know before choosing to send their child to the school, said the report.

In addition, the requirement is unlikely to “scare off” participating private schools, as evidenced by a report released by the Fordham Institute last year, which found that being required to participate in state tests did not play a large role in private schools’ decision to accept voucher- or tax-credit-scholarship students.

Another recommendation the Fordham Institute makes is to implement a sliding scale of accountability for private schools working with voucher- and tax-credit-scholarship students. On that sliding scale, private schools that accept smaller numbers of those students should be “largely left alone” while schools that accept larger numbers should be held more accountable for the results.

Only the voucher program in Louisiana currently has a sliding scale of accountability, which the report highlights as a model. The school choice programs in Indiana, Ohio (and the separate program in Cleveland), and Milwaukee all require participating private schools to administer and disclose their results on state tests, but do not have a sliding scale of accountability model.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.