Some people say that private schools that enroll a certain number/percentage of students who pay tuition using a state voucher should have a state report card just like public schools.
Those people are right. Parents are looking for information on the quality of their private school options, and private schools need to be accountable for the results of students funded by taxpayers. However, their report card solution is problematic for a number of reasons:
- The achievement of all students at a private school does nothing to account for their use of public funds. As taxpayers, our interest is in how students who are voucher recipients fare, compared to how they would have otherwise.
- Public school funding is estimated at around $12,000 per student and the maximum voucher amount is about a 60% discount at $5,000 on the high end. It is strange to imagine that a school that gets a portion of the funding would be subject to the same level of reporting.
- We know from national studies that the real impact of private school comes in higher graduation rates, which Ohio does not track for voucher recipients. That would be a welcome addition to the private school accountability rubric.
- Ohio already meets the national standards for voucher accountability:
-All school voucher recipients take the same state assessment as their public school peers
-The results of these tests are required to be posted online (separated by private school where it would not violate federal student privacy laws) for all the world to see
Whether there are some private schools that would want to buy in to the full accountability system in exchange for full funding is a conversation for another day.
For now, Ohioans can rest assured that private schools ARE accountable – not only to the state, but also to their parents because their families, tuition-paying or otherwise, are always free to vote with their feet if they see that their child is not succeeding.