Accountability Act Scholarships May Not Help Kids Escape Failing Schools

Oct 9, 2016

Students at the private Churchill Academy in Montgomery, Ala.

Thousands of Alabama children are attending private schools thanks to Accountability Act scholarships, but very few of those students transferred out of a failing public school.

The state program provides private school scholarships to help low-income students attend private schools. When lawmakers started the program in 2013, it was touted as a way to help students escape schools with chronically low test scores.

The Decatur Daily reports that, according to state data over the past three years, only 39 students withdrew from failing schools to attend private schools.

State Senator Dick Brewbaker says despite the low number of transfers out of failing schools, the program is still working as intended. He says it gives low-income families the same school choices that middle class families have.

There are 76 schools listed as failing in Alabama. Sally Smith of the Alabama Association of School Boards says the Accountability Act doesn't provide anything to help those failing public schools improve.