- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 27, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana students who attend private schools with taxpayer dollars have bounced back from initially dismal scores in math and English but aren’t outperforming their public school peers, according to a new report.

The Advocate reports the review released Monday by the Education Research Alliance in New Orleans says that after three years, those voucher students were on par with public school students who tried and failed to land the assistance.

Around 7,100 students receive vouchers in Louisiana, 87 percent of whom are black, the study says.

Supporters say the assistance provides students with a path out of poor-performing public schools. Opponents say vouchers rob financially strapped public schools of needed revenue. Louisiana spends about $40 million annually for the program, which began under Republican former Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The review - done by an organization based at Tulane University - compared how students who landed vouchers through a state lottery fared with those who tried and failed to qualify for the assistance, and then remained in public schools.

The study follows an earlier review from the organization that said voucher recipients did “significantly worse” than their peers in the first year, and “slightly less negative” after year two. The latest review said after three years, voucher recipients were performing roughly the same as public school students in math and English/language arts, or ELA.

In other areas, the Louisiana study said students with disabilities are less likely to receive special education services if they get vouchers. In addition, voucher students identified with disabilities were more likely to later lose those designations than students in public schools, the report says.

The report also said private schools that take part in the program are disproportionately Roman Catholic, charge low tuition, have low enrollments and serve a high percentage of minority students.

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