Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Ohio extends EdChoice Scholarship deadline

By Maggie Thurber | Franklin Center School Choice Fellow

It’s good news for Ohio parents. The Ohio Department of Education extended the deadline for the EdChoice Scholarship Program until Sept. 5, so there’s still time to apply.

The extension is so the state can recalculate report cards for districts that manipulated student data.

Schools in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo and several other districts throughout the state incorrectly removed some students with absences and low test scores from their required report card calculations. This resulted in better grades for the school’s academic standing.

Following the two-year investigation, the state decided to add back the deleted students and recalculate the report cards for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school year.

This means that some schools that appeared to be performing well might have grades that would allow students to qualify for EdChoice Scholarships. The program provides vouchers to students from underperforming public schools so they can attend participating private schools.

To be eligible, students must meet one of the following conditions:

  • Currently attend an underperforming public school in the district where they reside
  • Currently attend a public school in the district where they reside and be assigned to an underperforming school for the upcoming year
  • Currently attend a charter or community school in lieu of attending the underperforming school where they would normally be assigned
  • Be 5 years old by January 1, 2015 and eligible to enter kindergarten at an underperforming school
  • Be a first-time Ohio school student who would be assigned to one of the underperforming schools.

Additionally, some children may be eligible for the EdChoice expansion scholarship if they are going to enter kindergarten or first grant in Fall 2014 and has a family household income that is at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Children in the Cleveland Municipal School District are not eligible.

The state expects to issue 60,000 scholarships for the 2014-15 school year, not counting the approximately 4,000 expansion scholarships.

As of the end of May, 3,209 students had applied under the voucher expansion and 18,228 had applied for the EdChoice Scholarship.

The first application period was February 1 through May 9, 2014. The vouchers are $4,250 for grades K-8 and $5,000 for high school and they cover tuition only. Students must first apply at the participating private school.

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