Monday, February 21, 2011

No growth in school choice program this year

Milwaukee's private school voucher program, known as the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), enrolled slightly fewer students this fall than in the previous year. That makes 2010-2011 the first school year without growth in the program since its expansion to include religious schools in 1998-1999. The Forum analyzes 13 years of school choice data in our newest report on the program, released today.

The loss of 66 students this year was minor compared to the number of schools leaving the program. Twelve schools did not return to the program this year. Combined with the 17 schools that were lost in 2009-2010, this factor had a direct impact on the decline in enrollment. Just three schools joined the program in 2009-2010 and four schools joined this year, all of them much smaller than the schools that closed or withdrew.

Thus, at 103 schools in 2010-2011 compared to 114 in 2009-2010, it shouldn't be surprising that fewer students receive vouchers this year. Total enrollment also declined this year among the schools participating in the MPCP.

The reduction in the number of participating schools is the result of new state regulations requiring MPCP schools to be accredited. Most of the schools leaving the program over the past two years did so because they lacked accreditation. In addition, two schools left the program this year in order to convert to charter schools, which earn more per pupil than voucher schools.

For more on the impact of state regulations on the program, including newregulations requiring all schools to administer the state standardized tests, see the full report. A directory of schools participating in the program, with information useful to parents making schooling decisions, also is available on the Forum's Web site.

No comments: