The accountability system for academic performance ensures that all participating students take state tests and that all schools' scores are reported. Schools with more than 10 students per grade, or more than 40 students in tested grades, receive a Scholarship Cohort Index (SCI) and enroll new students in subsequent years only if the index is a passing SCI. The Department projects that within four years 85 percent of participating students will attend a school receiving an SCI.
"Under the accountability system and criteria for participation, parents and the public can be assured schools will focus on student achievement," White said. "More parents applied for scholarships than there were seats available for children, in their region, at their grade level. This should further fuel us to make every school - traditional public, charter public, and nonpublic - a great choice for all Louisiana families."
Department of Education officials conducted a lottery process on and provided each school participating in the Louisiana Scholarship Program with a list of students who were matched to that particular school. Scholarship offers were mailed to approximately 5,600 students all over the state. As parents decide whether to accept the offer, and as schools adjust the grade levels and seats to be offered in response, the state will make further offers of admission. This second set of offers will be made in mid-August.
In addition to releasing preliminary matches for all participating schools, the Department has also released a list of schools' approved tuitions and fees. The final average tuition for the scholarship program is $5,300 per student. If the participating student had been educated in a public school, the average per-pupil expenditure through the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) would have been $8,500. This results in a total savings of approximately $18 million.
"We are pleased to be able to honor the choices of several thousand Louisiana families," said BESE President Penny Dastugue. "With the sound policies adopted by BESE today, families and taxpayers can be assured these children will be well-served."
There was wide variation across parishes in the percent of applicants given an offer. In both Tangipahoa and Lafayette, for example, more than 90 percent of applicants received an offer, while in Caddo Parish only 18 percent were provided a slot because of significant demand for seats.
Reports indicate that 84 percent of non-Kindergarten students receiving an award were from D and F schools, and 16 percent were from C schools. Additionally, 55 percent of applicants were matched to their number one school choice, and an additional 3 percent of students were matched to a second or later choice.
"I have been waiting years for something like this to come along. I have been dreaming of going to a better school my whole life," said Keisha Davis, a high school student and scholarship recipient. "I can't wait to start getting a better education and for all the opportunities going to a better school will present."
These offers are part of an ongoing process to assess school capacity and to match students with schools of their choice. Per Act 2, eligible schools initially provided a proposed number of available seats. The Department then finalized the number of available seats and the number of eligible schools based on criteria for participation released last week. The criteria for participation focus on enrollment, financial practice, tuition, student mobility, and the health, safety and welfare of students. Offers were made based on the preferences of applicants. Families will next indicate to schools whether they will accept offers. The Department will provide an update on the process again in August.
For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions, visit http://www.louisianaschools.net/topics/scholarships_for_excellence.html, email [email protected], or call the Louisiana Department of Education's Help Center at 1-877-453-2721.