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New Ranking of School Choice Programs Reveals Need for Strong Laws that Facilitate Greater Participation

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First Edition of Education Tax Credit Scholarships Ranking & Scorecard Released

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
June 17, 2014

Out of 14 states that have tax credit-funded scholarship programs, two earn A’s, five earn B’s, four earn C’s, two earn D’s, and one earns an F on a new ranking and analysis from the Center for Education Reform (CER), School Choice Today: Education Tax Credit Scholarships Ranking & Scorecard 2014 released today. The first of its kind, the Education Tax Credit Scholarships Ranking & Scorecard 2014 is an in-depth analysis and state-by-state comparison of the 14 tax credit-funded scholarship programs currently in existence.

“Half of the 14 states that currently have tax credit-funded scholarship programs have enacted them in the past three years alone, so a review of the policy and implementation is necessary to ensure states don’t become complacent with just having a law on the books,” said Kara Kerwin, president of CER. “It’s time to assess whether or not these programs are truly increasing access to educational options, so more states can respond to increased parental demand for choice.”

Tax credit-funded scholarship programs now pay tuition for approximately 190,000 students, a school-choice program participation level that is surpassed only by enrollment in charter schools.

One of the key findings of the Education Tax Credit Scholarships Ranking & Scorecard 2014 is that states with the five highest-rated laws ranked in the top six spots in measures of student & donor participation.

“What the Education Tax Credit Scholarships Ranking & Scorecard 2014 reveals is that we need more states with strong laws, because strong laws facilitate greater participation in school choice programs,” said Brian Backstrom, lead researcher and author of the report and a senior advisor to CER.

When evaluating tax credit-funded scholarship programs, the Education Tax Credit Scholarships Ranking & Scorecard 2014 takes into consideration not only the program’s design, but implementation as well, in order to assess whether the program is truly helping the greatest amount of families possible choose a better educational option. CER assesses tax credit-funded scholarship programs based on five major components:

• Eligibility requirements & provider availability;
• Tax credit & scholarship design;
• Preservation of private school autonomy;
• Budget; and
• Participation & implementation.

Kara Kerwin, president of CER, and Brian Backstrom, a senior policy advisor to CER and lead researcher and author of this report, are available for comment on the Education Tax Credit Scholarships Ranking & Scorecard 2014. Members of the media should contact CER Communications Director Michelle Tigani at 301-986-8088 or michelle@edreform.com to set up interviews.

Click here to read School Choice Today: Education Tax Credit Scholarships Ranking & Scorecard 2014