April 8, 2015
RELEASE: Excel National Commends Governor Hutchinson for signing Succeed Scholarship Program
Program offers education options to students with special needs
Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Patricia Levesque, Executive Director for Excellence in Education National (@Excel_National), issued the following statement on Governor Asa Hutchinson’s signing of the Succeed Scholarship Program (HB 1552). The law gives parents of children with special needs the ability to send their children to the school that best meets their unique learning needs, starting in the 2016-2017 school year.
“The Succeed Scholarship Program will expand access and opportunity to a quality education for Arkansas’ most vulnerable students. Parents of children with special needs are often faced with limited options for their children and this program empowers them with choice and opportunity to maximize their child’s strengths.
“We are grateful for the leadership of Governor Hutchinson, Representative Douglas House, Senator Jim Hendren and the Arkansas General Assembly on this important issue. Thanks to their efforts, students with special needs now have the opportunity to choose effective learning environments.”
Learn more about the Succeed Scholarship Program (HB 1552):
- With the signing of the Succeed Scholarship Program bill into law, Arkansas becomes the 20th state (plus the District of Columbia and Douglas County, Colorado) to adopt a private school choice program and the 11th state (plus the District of Columbia and Douglas County, Colorado) to create a choice program specifically for students with special needs.
- The program enables public school students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to attend their choice of a private school through a scholarship.
- It also requires participating private schools to specify the grade levels and services available for students with severe disabilities and requires participating private schools to be accredited.
- The Succeed Scholarship Program is similar to Florida’s McKay Scholarship Program, which has created significant benefits for students with special needs:
- A study completed two years after the program was launched found that 92.7 percent of participants were satisfied or very satisfied with their new schools; students had smaller classes to meet their unique learning needs; students were victimized far less by other students; and behavioral issues dropped by more than 50 percent.
- Two studies also showed that the law became the necessary push for many public schools to deliver better services to special needs students who remained in public schools. A 2008 study found that public school students with relatively mild disabilities made statistically significant test score improvements in both math and reading. Another study in 2012 showed that Florida’s students with special needs led the nation in combined Math and Reading National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) gains for students with special needs from 2003-2011.
For more information visit www.ExcelNational.org.