Indiana Tops the National Record for First-Year School Voucher Participation

By Scott Sarvay

November 3, 2011 Updated Nov 4, 2011 at 11:45 AM EDT

INDIANAPOLIS (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - The Indiana Department of Education (DOE) announced Friday that the state's new voucher program approved nearly 4,000 students for participation in 2011-12, making the Choice Scholarship Program the biggest first-year voucher program ever.

A total of 3,919 students were approved for participation. Nearly 85 percent, or 3,326, of voucher recipients are on the free and reduced lunch program. 53-percent of program participants represent minority families, including 24-percent African-American and 19-percent Hispanic.

The final tally from the DOE finds that the level of participation in Indiana significantly exceeded what was seen in other states during the first year of voucher program implementation. By comparison, Ohio's EdChoice Program had 2,713 participants in 2006-07, its first year. The next highest first-year voucher participation rate came from the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program, with 1,994 students participating in 1996-97.

"It's terrific to see that so many families have taken advantage of this exciting new opportunity," said Lindsey Brown, Executive Director of School Choice Indiana. "Students are already benefiting from this important program and the stories that we've heard from parents and principals have been very encouraging."

The number of available vouchers for the 2011-2012 year was capped at 7,500 children. Next year the participation cap increases to 15,000 children. Limits on the number of vouchers will be removed in the third year of the program.

Although the student application window is currently closed, the Department of Education will release information at a later date to alert families when the next window to apply is open. The list of approved schools and eligibility requirements can be found at http://www.MyChoiceINed.com and http://www.doe.in.gov/schoolchoice.

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