The Ohio House and Senate have each approved legislation, Senate Bill 89, which significantly changes the state’s EdChoice Scholarship program. The EdChoice Scholarship, Ohio’s largest voucher program, has been a topic of robust debate for the past year as lawmakers argued over what state report card measures should determine if a school is considered low-performing. Students at any school earning that designation qualify for a voucher.
“This past year has been full of uncertainty for Ohio families, and the changing requirements around EdChoice eligibility only made matters worse,” said Chad Aldis, Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “The legislature deserves credit for compromising and finding a long-term solution. Parents, private schools, and public schools deserve to know who is eligible and who isn’t for this important educational option.”
The changes enacted will reduce the reliance on the state report card for determining eligibility and shrink the number of public schools whose students would be eligible for the performance-based EdChoice Scholarship from more than 1200 to just under 500. At the same time, the legislation expands eligibility for the income-based EdChoice program by increasing the amount of money a family can make to qualify from 200 percent to 250 percent of the federal poverty level (about $65,000 for a family of four).
“In the long term, these changes will be very positive for Ohio families and schools,” Aldis added. “These last eight months have reminded us that education isn’t one size fits all. Families need options. The EdChoice program is well positioned going forward to provide opportunities to many more Ohio students—especially the most disadvantaged—to find a school that works for them.”