BESE approves accountability standards for schools participating in the voucher program

BESE approves accountability standards for schools participating in the voucher program

POSTED: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - 7:01pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 2:59am

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has approved a plan they believe will help level the playing field between public and private schools enrolled in the voucher program. State superintendent John White explained Tuesday that each voucher recipient school will be required to make their students take state mandated tests, the same as any public school. They will also be forced to make those results public.

"The best way to test whether or not the curriculum works is to test whether or not they're able to do the things that you want them to do," White said.

The superintendent explained that the board has already reviewed the academic curriculum of each of the almost 120 participating schools, to make sure they align with the teaching goals of public institutions. For teachers who have worked in the public school system for years, it's essential that the private voucher-funded programs are compared against the same criteria as their own schools.

"I am just in accordance with making sure our schools are held to the same standards. And making sure that even though these schools are providing these tuition vouchers, that everyone is going to be held accountable in the same way," Jessica McNally, a former middle school math and science teacher, explained.

McNally said she's still waiting to see the benefits of the voucher program, she wants the best fit for each student, but worries that sending public funds to private schools will hurt those children remaining in the public system. Accountability, she believes is one way to ensure every student ends up reaching their full potential.

"I feel like the voucher program can be effective for our students, if they're held to the same accountability standards, and it is proven that they are effective."

Superintendent White said at this point the voucher program is projected to save the state $18 million, he said it will cost the state less per child to send them to private schools.

Of the close to 10,000 students that applied for the program statewide, only 5,600 have been notified of their acceptance in to the program.

He said that means there are still close to1,000 seats that have yet to be assigned to a child. He said not all of the children who received voucher offers will accept them, meaning some of those spots could also be up for grabs.

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