Students who wanted to sign up for the Louisiana Voucher Program had to make their decision by February 24. But that was before the state released the grades for the participating schools.

Overall, the voucher schools performed very poorly, as reported by Danielle Dreilinger writing in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Please open the story for the links and for the data charts.

Louisiana parents interested in the school voucher program, which allows students from struggling public schools to attend participating private ones, had to sign up by Feb. 24. But they didn’t have an important piece of information: the most recent academic results from schools that accept vouchers.

The Louisiana Department of Education sent the 2016 Louisiana Scholarship Program performance scores to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune more than three months later than usual — on the voucher registration deadline.

Those scores synthesize test results and graduation rates to give a complete picture of how effectively private schools have educated their taxpayer-funded voucher students. Usually they are released with their public school equivalents, which came out in November.

Spokeswoman Sydni Dunn atrributed the difference to “a delay in the data verification process.” She noted that the department was two months early on submitting its annual report to the Legislature, which it also did Feb. 24.

Now in its fifth year, the Louisiana Scholarship Program lets low-income students enroll in participating private schools at public expense if they are entering kindergarten or zoned for public schools graded C, D or F. It’s the kind of program President Donald Trump is promoting Friday (March 3) as he visits his first school since taking office, and a signature initiative of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Louisiana’s long-awaited 2016 voucher data shows some improvement, to a level that is still very low.

Measured like a school district, the Louisiana Scholarship Program earned 61.4 on a 150-point scale, Dunn said. That would be a D on the state public school report card, and worse than any public school system except for those in St. Helena Parish, Morehouse Parish and Bogalusa. No voucher program earned an A.

In short, students are encouraged to leave a public school rated C, D, or F, for a voucher school that may be rated C, D, or F.