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Private schools with vouchers saw slight drop in test scores

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Private Indiana schools that accepted students from low- to middle-income families using state-funded vouchers last year experienced a drop in their passing rates on the state's ISTEP test this year, a newspaper's analysis of test scores shows.

The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne analyzed the test scores of 189 private schools with voucher students that administered the statewide test and used 2011 data for comparison. The newspaper reported Monday that its analysis showed those schools' passing rates for both math and English fell to 85 percent this year, down from 86 percent the year before.

At the same time, the state's public schools' scores rose slightly, with about 71 percent of students passing both the English and math portions of the test this year, up from about 70 percent last year. Those scores mark an 8-percent gain since the 2008-09 school year.

In 2011, Indiana lawmakers approved the nation's broadest voucher program for low-to-moderate income families. The program, which nearly 4,000 students took advantage of in the 2011-12 school year, allows parents to send their children to private schools using state funding.

School Choice Indiana executive director Lindsey Brown said the group, which supports the voucher law, "fully expected" that some private schools taking on new students would see slight drops in their scores.

"When a school takes on a large number of new students, that's certainly going to impact its scores," she said.

Brown said other choice programs nationwide have shown an initial negative impact before test results grow again.

The Indiana Department of Education has not yet run an aggregate calculation showing how many voucher students passed the test.

But Brown said voucher schools overall performed better than public schools. Specifically, she said 38 percent of voucher schools — or 86 schools — reached the 90-percent pass rate in both subjects, which the state Department of Education set as a goal for every school.

Still, some drops in passing rates at individual private schools were quite large.

For instance, the Ambassador Christian Academy in Gary accepted 110 voucher students at the beginning of the school year. In 2011, 78 percent of the academy's students passed both the math and English portions of the test. That rate dropped to 57 percent this year.

At Blackhawk Christian Jr.-Sr. High in Fort Wayne, 91 percent of students pass the math and English portions last year compared with 83 percent this year. The school's lead administrator, Bill Hartman, said he wasn't shocked at all to see an overall statewide reduction for voucher schools.

"I think there is no question as you broaden the student population your test scores are not going to be as high," he said. "The more you pull the public into the private we will see that."

But he cautioned against blaming the influx of voucher students, saying the majority of Blackhawk's voucher students were in elementary grades.

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  • Incomplete Story
    This should not have been published without complete information. The headline tries to imply a correlation between vouchers and test scores without substantiating with details. If most of the kids with vouchers went into elementary, and the scores are for high school juniors and seniors, there's an obvious disconnect.

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  1. Those of you yelling to deport them all should at least understand that the law allows minors (if not from a bordering country) to argue for asylum. If you don't like the law, you can petition Congress to change it. But you can't blindly scream that they all need to be deported now, unless you want your government to just decide which laws to follow and which to ignore.

  2. 52,000 children in a country with a population of nearly 300 million is decimal dust or a nano-amount of people that can be easily absorbed. In addition, the flow of children from central American countries is decreasing. BL - the country can easily absorb these children while at the same time trying to discourage more children from coming. There is tension between economic concerns and the values of Judeo-Christian believers. But, I cannot see how the economic argument can stand up against the values of the believers, which most people in this country espouse (but perhaps don't practice). The Governor, who is an alleged religious man and a family man, seems to favor the economic argument; I do not see how his position is tenable under the circumstances. Yes, this is a complicated situation made worse by politics but....these are helpless children without parents and many want to simply "ship" them back to who knows where. Where are our Hoosier hearts? I thought the term Hoosier was synonymous with hospitable.

  3. Illegal aliens. Not undocumented workers (too young anyway). I note that this article never uses the word illegal and calls them immigrants. Being married to a naturalized citizen, these people are criminals and need to be deported as soon as humanly possible. The border needs to be closed NOW.

  4. Send them back NOW.

  5. deport now

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