PROGRAM OVERVIEW:

  • The Louisiana Scholarship Program began as a small pilot in 2008 and was expanded statewide in 2012.

  • To be eligible for a voucher, students must have a family income of 250% of the federal poverty line or below and either be entering kindergarten or coming from a public school that was awarded a C,D, or F grade.

  • The voucher amount is the lesser of state and local spending per pupil or the cost of private school tuition.

  • Private voucher schools must administer the state LEAP and iLEAP tests to their voucher students in grades 3-8 and 10.

  • In 2014-15, nearly 7500 students received vouchers.


Main Findings: 

  • The voucher program had a negative impact on students’ academic achievement in its first two years. 

    • The sample of students measure were 1525 eligible voucher applicants, grades 3-6, who had previously attended public schools and took the state LEAP or iLEAP tests.

    • In year one, students in the voucher program fell 24 percentile points in math and 8 percentile points in reading compared to a public school counterpart measuring in the 50th percentile.

    • In year two, students in the voucher program fell 13 percentile points in math compared to a public school counterpart measuring in the 50th percentile. For reading, the results were uncertain.

  • There is no evidence that voucher students had any difference in non-academic skills such as grit, self-esteem, locus of control, or political tolerance.

  • The voucher program has had a negative impact on integration at private schools, in particular for black and white students.

    • This means that for students who used vouchers to transfer into a private school, both black and white students most often entered a private school in which their race or ethnicity was already over-represented relative to the community.