Indiana Voucher Enrollment Doubles in Second Year

Published September 25, 2012

The number of Indiana children attending private school on a state voucher has more than doubled over the program’s initial enrollment, according to the Indiana Department of Education.

In 2011-2012, 3,919 students enrolled in the program. For this fall and the 2012-2013 school year, more than 9,000 enrolled. In the first two years of the program­­­, 2011-2012 and the current school year, scholarships are limited to 7,500 and 15,000 students, respectively. Next year the cap will be lifted.

“Last year … it was the largest first-year voucher program in the nation’s history,” said Alex Damron, press secretary for the Indiana Department of Education.

In 2011, Indiana implemented a statewide voucher program, one of the nation’s most expansive. It provides private school scholarships to students from low- and middle-income families—those with incomes of up to 150 percent of the federal poverty line, or approximately $60,000 a year for a family of four. Scholarships are worth up to 90 percent of state per-pupil education spending, depending on a family’s income level.

Some voucher schools had particularly high enrollment this year, noted Lindsey Brown, executive director of School Choice Indiana. Two of these are Ambassador Academy in Gary and Liberty Christian in Anderson. “Many of the state’s Catholic schools also had higher numbers,” Brown added.

Better Academic Results
“Voucher schools performed better on math and English [state tests] than public schools on the whole,” noted Jeff Reed of the Indianapolis-based Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

Ninety-one percent of students in Indiana voucher schools passed the state’s English/language arts test, and 89 percent passed its math test in 2012, reported School Choice Indiana and the Friedman Foundation. In state public schools, these numbers were 79 percent and 81 percent for English/language arts and math, respectively.

Additionally, 90 percent of voucher school students passed both subjects in 38 percent of their schools, the goal set by the Indiana State Department of Education for all schools. That is more than three times the percentage of Indiana public schools that met this goal (12 percent).

“A student being in a school that their parent has been empowered to choose, and that is a good fit for their needs, offers the student a great opportunity to thrive and succeed; an opportunity that without the voucher program, they might not have had,” Brown said.

Image by Sidney University.