Rather than requiring the ISTEP test, voucher schools could administer the ISTEP or “a nationally norm referenced test approved by [the State Board of Education].” Additionally, voucher schools would not be required to report the results of those tests.
The bill would also limit the amount of data schools receiving vouchers would be required to report to the state department of education.
The proposal comes to the fore just days after an Indiana Department of Education report showed the number of students using public-money vouchers to attend private schools more than doubled this year to 19,809 at a cost of nearly $80 million.
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[Per the Indiana State Teachers Association]: “Not lost on anyone in this proposal is that once private schools would no longer be required to administer the ISTEP test to its students, these schools would also no longer receive a letter grade for their school’s performance,” the post said.
I’m not a great fan of the ISTEP or incessant testing of our kids, but if we’re going to be diverting a bunch of money from traditional schools to voucher schools, we need to have apples-to-apples comparisons to know whether we’re spending that money wisely. That means playing by the same rules. What data we do have from the last 20 years of vouchers in the country suggests that voucher schools don’t perform notably better than traditional schools and, often times, perform worse.
Updated Also relevant, see State Impact on the amount of voucher money in Indiana and where it is flowing.
“Indiana’s Choice Scholarships — in terms of purchasing power — are more expansive than other, similar types of voucher program operating in Washington, D.C., Ohio and Louisiana currently,” says Nelson, who researches the economics of education. “They’re less expansive than other programs operating in Colorado, North Carolina and Milwaukee.”
But what really separates Indiana’s program is which schools and students can participate — the number of vouchers has doubled in each of the past two years. Nelson says that’s a problem because a significant amount of money is flowing towards low-rated schools.
“I find it highly problematic that the school in Indiana with the highest dollar amount in Choice Scholarships is Ambassador Christian Academy, and that school was rated an F,” she says. “We need some sort of accountability process in place where schools that are rated F or just poorly overall do not end up receiving huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to essentially reallocate students to very low-performing schools.”