The 2014 calendar year numbers are out, showing that nearly 5,800 students received scholarships through the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA). Just under 1,100 of them would otherwise have attended a “failing” public school.
While these numbers are helpful to know, due to additional reporting requirements approved by the legislature during the regular session, soon we will know much more about the recipients of scholarships and which schools are educating those students.
Prior to passage of the new law, the scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) were only required to file annual reports covering the calendar year, due in June. Those annual reports are now due on the first of September and will cover the period from July 1 to June 30.
A shortened 2015 Annual Report (for the period January 1 to June 30) was due September 1 and will be publicly posted soon, according to a department spokesperson. [ADOR is very quick about getting SGO reports online.]
The Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR) posted the 2014 reports as filed by the scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) along with the summary report ADOR provides.
In addition to the annual reports, SGOs are now required to file quarterly reports, with the first reports due October 15 for the quarter ended September 30.
The Next Round of Reports
The quarterly reports will be the more revealing of the two sets. Each school that receives scholarship recipients will be listed, along with the following information about each school:
- Total number of scholarship recipients in each school,
- Total number of eligible students zoned to attend a failing school the previous academic year,
- Total number of first-time scholarship recipients continuously enrolled in a nonpublic school the previous year,
- Total number of first-time scholarship recipients continuously enrolled in a public school the previous year,
- Total number of educational scholarship funds awarded to students in the school, and
- Total amount of educational scholarships funds paid to the school.
What We Know So Far
We have two years of reports now, though some of the numbers shared in the 2014 report weren’t included in the 2013 report.
We know that 5,792 scholarships were awarded at an average of $4,074 per student.
Those same 5,792 scholarships had an average non-scholarship cost of $244 per student.
The average amount of Alabama’s public schools per pupil expenditure was $8,979, with the state footing the bill for an average of $5,827 of that total.
We know that 2,504 of the scholarship recipients for 2014 were enrolled in a public school for the entire previous year, whereas 1,067 were enrolled in a private school for the entire previous year.
We don’t know where the other 1,335 recipients received schooling the previous year. They could have been too young to attend school, they could have been homeschooled, or they could simply have not been enrolled during the entire year in either a public or a private school. This is an important piece of information to know, because it tells us who is seeking the scholarships. Maybe they’ll add that to the requirements during the next Regular Session.
We know that 1,709 of those students would have otherwise attended a failing school.
That means that nearly 70% of the students receiving scholarships were not zoned to attend a failing school as defined by the Alabama Accountability Act.
But we don’t know which schools they were zoned to attend. That’s another piece of information that would be helpful.
The 2015 numbers will be added to the graphic below as soon as they are posted on ADOR’s web site.