October 28, 2016

Report: Indiana's Voucher Program One Of Most Expansive In Country

file photo

file photo

A group of researchers at Indiana University released a report comparing the mechanics of school voucher programs in a handful of states, which featured Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program.

The Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at IU wanted to compare the school voucher programs in Indiana, the District of Columbia, Arizona, Louisiana, Ohio and Wisconsin — all places with a similar voucher program (the researchers’ criteria was a program that is available to all types of students, because many programs are for children with special needs only).

CEEP researcher Molly Stewart says the report found that Indiana had by far the largest number of students attending private schools using state money that had never attended a public school in the first place.

“More than 50 percent of current voucher recipients in Indiana have not attended a public school in the past,” Stewart says. “That is a huge number.”

Stewart says this number is also so large compared to the other states because Indiana doesn’t have a cap on how many vouchers it gives out. The only limit that exists in the Indiana program comes from available spots in private schools.

The report also compares how these states study the fiscal impact of these programs. Indiana is one of two in the study that do not require audits of the program. Stewart says some of the other states must complete audits every year, which is written in their law.

Stewart did say the Department of Education in Indiana collects data about the program that is available to the public, which not every state does.

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