NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Edgewood Scholars' First Semester In Horizon Program

February 16, 1999

Contrary to school officials' predictions that school choice would "skim the cream" of students from the public schools, children participating in the first district wide school choice program in the United States are very much like students remaining in the public schools, say program officials. Following the completion of its first semester of operations, CEO AMERICA president Fritz Steiger says "The early results indicate that children who need help the most are the ones taking advantage of the program."

The CEO Horizon Project, located in the Edgewood School District in San Antonio, Texas, is a privately funded voucher program for children from low-income families. It is sponsored by the Children's Educational Opportunity Foundation of America (CEO AMERICA).

Of the 837 total students taking advantage of Horizon scholarships, only 566 were students who left Edgewood public schools.

  • The ethnic makeup of Horizon scholarship recipients is similar to Edgewood students at large -- 92 percent Hispanic with an average annual family income of $13,492.
  • On an initial, nationally normed academic achievement test, Horizon students performed, on average, at a 4.8 level in reading and a 4.9 level in math on a 10-point scale where 5 is generally considered average.
  • Additionally, the range of test scores shows that the majority of Horizon students are not high academic achievers.

The private schools participating in the Horizon program accepted almost every applicant, regardless of academic standing. Only eight of the 57 private schools screened applicants prior to admission. Four of these were high schools, which screened 9th grade applicants for secondary school readiness. One special needs school for the hearing impaired tested for confirmation of student need. One Baptist school tested first through fourth graders, and two elementary schools -- one of which is a school for gifted children -- tested all applicants.

Source: "Edgewood - Horizon Project: Early Findings Prove Critics of School Choice Wrong," news release, February 9, 1999, Children's Educational Opportunity Foundation of America (CEO AMERICA), P.O. Box 330, Bentonville, Ark. 72712, (501) 273-6957.


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