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Questions regarding the LEARNS Act voucher program discussed in a public forum



Little Rock, Arkansas – Jacob Oliva, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Education, will participate in a public discussion to go over the LEARNS Act’s voucher program.

The ‘Education Freedom Accounts,’ according to Oliva, will be implemented gradually.

In its initial year, 2023–2024, roughly 1.5% of all public school students will be able to apply to attend a school of their choosing, according to a set of requirements.

By the next year, it will increase to 3%, and by 2025, all kids in Arkansas will qualify.

“Whether you are a single parent, income-based, students with special needs, who need different support or who are in a failing school, if parents want to choose and participate in other options for the best need that meets their family, they will be able to apply,” said Oliva.

According to Oliva, funds for the accounts would be distributed every three months to allow parents the chance to determine whether the school they choose is the best fit for their child.

He claimed there would be instructions for parents on how to assess how well schools are doing.

“There will be an accountability component. Students are going to have to participate in a national standardized assessment,” said Oliva. “We are going to need to be able to report how students are doing because if parents are going to make informed decisions that may work best for their children, they need to know how students are performing in those schools.”

It’s preferable to have an early window for applications, he claimed after speaking with educators from all throughout Arkansas.

“Start getting information on the parents as early as next month. It is already March and April,” said Oliva. “Hoping to have these systems in place for the next fiscal year begins. We need to have these processes in place so parents can have a firm understanding of where their children are going to go.”

The first two years, homeschooled pupils would not be eligible for vouchers, according to Oliva, who also announced the formation of working groups made up of parents, teachers, and local authorities across the state to iron out other specifics.

Oliva stated that several issues raised in the forum would need to be resolved over the coming few months.

This includes information about the tests that students must take and the dates during which applications will be accepted.

The working groups will aid in finalizing those specifics.

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