School choice scholarships see soaring popularity after COVID learning loss

School choice scholarships see soaring popularity after COVID learning loss

FIRST ON FOX: School choice scholarships have seen soaring popularity in recent years following the learning loss experienced by children across the U.S. during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to ACE Scholarships, a nonprofit committed to helping parents access better education options for their school-aged children through private school partnerships, a record 14,090 scholarships were awarded to K-12 children across the country through its program for the 2023-2024 school year.

The group is announcing the number amid School Choice Week, and says that the amount of scholarship applications it's received has nearly tripled over the last three years, growing from 12,311 applications in the 2021-2022 school year, to 32,113 applications during the current school year.

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kids masks
Elementary students wearing masks in the classroom

It also says that the skyrocketing demand points to a greater donation need for private scholarship programs and expanded educational choice programs across the U.S.

"At ACE, we’ve seen time and again inspiring stories of children finding education opportunities that work best for them and excelling as a result. It’s what bright futures are built on," ACE Scholarships CEO Norton Rainey told Fox News Digital.

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"Our scholarship program allows lower-income families to access schools that best meet the needs of their children," he said.

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ACE says it has provided more than 80,000 scholarships to lower-income families across 12 states since 2000, which has totaled more than $212 million.

That number was a record-breaking $4.1 million in Texas alone just throughout last year, which included nearly 1,500 students enrolled in public school alternatives. According to the group, more than 200 private schools in Texas have enrolled ACE Scholarship recipients.

"Increasing choices helps parents find schools that meet the specific needs of their children," ACE Scholarships Texas President Jon Lineberger told Fox. "Traditional public schools work well for many children, but too many kids are relegated to schools that are falling short academically, or don’t have the ability to meet a child’s special needs."

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"Choice empowers parents to make the best decisions for their children," he said.

Additionally, the group was selected by Utah last year to administer its educational savings account effort, which is expected to provide more than $42.5 million in assistance to 5,000 children.

Texas Capitol building dome with the Texas flag waving in front.
Texas state Capitol in Austin, Texas.

Since 2000, ACE has provided more than 80,000 scholarships to lower-income families in 12 states, totaling more than $212 million. In 2023, the group was selected by the state of Utah to administer its educational savings account (ESA) effort, a program that's expected to provide more than $42.5 million in assistance to 5,000 children.

"Every child deserves a quality education that allows them to flourish," Rainey told Fox. "But not every child attends a school that is safe, academically rigorous, or addresses specific learning needs."

"Choice programs give lower-income parents the flexibility to access a full menu of educational possibilities to find the learning environment best suited for their children," he added.

A national study released last summer found students needed around four additional months of schooling to fix post-COVID achievement gaps in reading and math. The numbers indicated a continued sluggish academic recovery for American students in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted traditional learning methods through extended school closures and transitions to online learning.


Original article source: School choice scholarships see soaring popularity after COVID learning loss