Less than half of Louisiana’s voucher students scored at grade level or above on key tests during the 2013-14 school year, the state Department of Education said Monday.
A report issued by the department said 44 percent of voucher students who were tested scored at basic or higher on LEAP or iLEAP exams, which measure what students know about math, English and other subjects.
The figure is up from 41.6 percent during the 2012-13 school year.
A total of 69 percent of public school students statewide scored at grade level or above, according to department figures.
Vouchers provide state aid for some students to move to private schools if they attend public schools rated C, D or F.
They also have to meet financial requirements — family incomes cannot exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty level — to qualify for the aid.
In a prepared statement, the department said 71 percent of first-time voucher students previously attended schools rated D or F.
Schools have to include at least 10 voucher students per grade or at least 40 in all tested grades to receive what state officials call a Scholarship Cohort Index, which is similar to School Performance Scores given statewide.
A total of 28 schools out of 126 statewide met that threshold, up from 23 last year.
The state has nearly 7,000 voucher students; 89 percent are minority students.
The report also said that, based on this year’s results, 23 schools will be unable to add voucher students next year because they failed to meet minimum scoring requirements.
The state breakdown did not include the percentage of students who were at grade level and above at their original school compared with that rate at the private school.
Leaders of two teachers’ unions, who have long criticized the state’s voucher program, said the latest results reaffirm their concerns.
Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, noted that 16 of 28 schools that received scores got failing marks.
“To me that is a red flag,” Meaux said. “I don’t find that we are getting a lot of bang for our buck.”
Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, called the review “pre-election propaganda,” not an education report.
Monaghan said the fact that just 12 of 126 schools met or exceeded minimum state scores on a $46 million per year program is telling.
“That means 10 percent of the schools are satisfactory,” he said.
The top score schools can get is 150, and 50 is the minimum passing score.
St. Benedict the Moor in Orleans Parish topped the list at 100.4.
It was followed by Good Shepard Nativity Mission School, 73.4; St. Joan of Arc School, 70.1; and St. Leo the Great School, 69.7.
The top-scoring school in East Baton Rouge Parish was St. Louis King of France at 53.3.
St. Francis Xavier School, also in East Baton Rouge, scored 52.3.
Hosanna Christian Academy scored 49.8 and Redemptorist Elementary School 46.1.
The state’s voucher program was limited to New Orleans until 2012, when it was expanded statewide under legislation pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Shannon Bates, a spokeswoman for Jindal, noted in a prepared statement that, according to a survey done in April by two pro-charter groups, 92 percent of parents surveyed said they were happy with their child’s voucher experience.
Kenneth Campbell, president of the pro-voucher Black Alliance for Educational Options, said the report “provides strong evidence that empowering low-income and working-class parents to choose the best education for their children is paying huge benefits in Louisiana.”
More information is available at www.doe.state.la.us.
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