**A printable version of this Q&A is available at the bottom of this page.
Immaculate Heart of Mary and the EdChoice Scholarship Program
The Mission of the Immaculate Heart of Mary School is to provide a rigorous Christian education rooted in the gospel values of Jesus Christ. Moreover, Immaculate Heart of Mary parish is committed to making that education accessible and affordable. To that end, IHM provides tuition assistance and financial aid for those who qualify.
The state of Ohio provides tuition vouchers for public students to attend private schools through Ohio’s Educational Choice (EdChoice) assistance program for qualified applicants. Historically, Immaculate Heart of Mary has not participated in the EdChoice program. However, in response to recent changes, the IHM administration made the decision to re-evaluate the EdChoice program. A commission of dedicated parishioners and the school administration spent time researching the program and developed recommendations about the acceptance and implementation of EdChoice assistance. After careful consideration, the commission recommended that IHM begin accepting EdChoice Scholarships for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.
Q: What is EdChoice?
A: The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) states that “(t)he Educational Choice Scholarship (EdChoice) Program provides students from designated public schools the opportunity to attend participating private schools.” It offers state-funded scholarships to students who would otherwise attend “low-performing” or “failing” public schools. The scholarship must be used to attend a private school that accepts such scholarships.
Q: Who is eligible to receive this Scholarship?
A: The Ohio Department of Education lists the following criteria for Eligibility:
In short, any prospective IHM student who lives in Ohio is eligible to apply for an EdChoice Scholarship if they are students who would be assigned to EdChoice eligible school. Helpful flowcharts to determine eligibility are provided by clicking the link HERE.
Q: What is an “EdChoice” public school?
A: An “EdChoice” public school is one that failed to meet one or more of the state mandated performance criteria. Such a school is then designated an “underperforming” or “failing” school for a specific time frame. If the school subsequently meets all of the performance criteria, it is removed from the underperforming list. The complete list of underperforming schools for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year may be found by clicking HERE.
Q: I have reviewed the eligibility and school list, but what about current IHM students?
A: The criteria for eligibility set by the state excludes current IHM students in grades K-7. Please see the flowchart from the ODE website found HERE.
However, new or prospective students to the IHM community or those currently attending the preschool who would otherwise be assigned to an EdChoice public school may be eligible to receive a scholarship.
Q: How does IHM become a participant in the EdChoice Scholarship Program?
A: Private schools who chose to participate in the EdChoice Scholarship Program must complete and submit an application to the Ohio Department of Education. Once accepted, IHM will be listed as an EdChoice provider HERE.
Q: My child is eligible, how do I get an EdChoice Scholarship?
A: There is a two-step process to receiving an EdChoice Scholarship. First, an eligible prospective student must apply and be excepted as IHM student before a scholarship will be awarded. Upon acceptance, a scholarship application must be submitted to the Ohio Department of Education. The state will begin accepting applications on February 1, 2020 and it will make the scholarship determination. More information may be found HERE.
Q: How are the EdChoice Scholarships awarded?
A: The State of Ohio determines who is awarded EdChoice Scholarships based
on information in your application and the eligibility criteria. IHM is not involved in the decision.
Q: Will every eligible student get an EdChoice scholarship?
A: It is not automatic. The program will award a total of 60,000 scholarships for the entire state, so it is difficult to determine if everyone who applies will receive a scholarship. Previous recipients have priority. This coupled with the number of “underperforming” schools on the list and the eligibility of current private High School students makes the potential demand very high. It is entirely possible that some applicants will not receive an EdChoice scholarship.
Q: How much is the scholarship and what does it cover?
A: The scholarship for students entering K-8 is up to $4650. It is not intended to cover the entire cost of educating the student. It only covers tuition up to that amount and cannot be used for fees, uniforms, materials, and other associated costs. The prospective IHM school family will be responsible for these costs.
Q: How long does the EdChoice Scholarship last?
A: Currently, once awarded, the state permits a recipient to re-apply for the scholarship every year up through their last year of High School; even if the “underperforming” public school to which they are assigned meets all relevant performance criteria and is removed from the list. Moreover, the student is given priority in the awarding of scholarship funds. However, the state is under no obligation to continue this policy and could change it any time.
Q: Will acceptance of EdChoice scholarship impact the quality education that IHM provides?
A: The parishioner led advisory board along with the school administration carefully analyzed the potential impact of accepting EdChoice scholarships on both the quality of the education and the mission of the IHM school. After doing so, it was determined that this change will not affect either element of our school community.
Q: Will it affect the admissions process?
A: No, acceptance of EdChoice Scholarships will not require any changes to our admissions policy or procedures. IHM will continue to maintain its standards in accepting new students. It is important to note that the prospective student must be accepted prior to the awarding of a scholarship, so the program is not designed to affect our acceptance process.
Q: Will accepting EdChoice Scholarships effect the Catholic Identity of the school?
A: No, the private school retains complete autonomy over its operation and programming. The IHM parish will continue to provide a rigorous Catholic education rooted in the Gospel values of Jesus Christ. Its mission remains to provide for the formation and development of “each child as a Christ-like, accountable, respectful and engaged disciple of Christ.”
Q: Will it require changes in curriculum or the use of additional resources?
A: The IHM school constantly re-evaluates how best to meet the needs of its students. As their needs change, the IHM school adapts to meet those needs. The acceptance of EdChoice scholarships mandates no changes in how the school meets the educational needs of its students.
Q: What about additional testing?
A: The state does require that any EdChoice Scholarship recipient take standardize testing and report those results to the state. However, recent changes in the program created more flexibility in which testing products are required and the IHM school administration is confident that any additional testing would not substantially impact the students or the facility.
Q: What about performance expectations and discipline?
A: Again, IHM school retains complete autonomy to develop and implement performance criteria, supplemental interventions, behavioral expectations, and discipline procedures. It will not require any changes in its policy and procedure manual.
Q: Will this require additional administrative staff?
A: As with any governmental process, there are record keeping responsibilities that will need to be integrated into the school’s administrative structure. However, the IHM school administration is confident that it can address these with little or no substantial change in staffing.
Q: Once it accepts EdChoice Scholarships, must it continue to do so as long as the program exists?
A: No. Providers must re-apply every year. IHM will continue to evaluate its relationship with the EdChoice program. Should the IHM parish decide that participation adversely affects the IHM school community or negatively impacts its mission, it will terminate its involvement in the EdChoice Program.