Skip to content

The Need for Support in Pennsylvania’s Proposed Voucher School Districts

The drafters of Pennsylvania’s new voucher proposal (“Pennsylvania Award for Student Success Scholarship Program”) identified 382 “low performing” public schools, located in 78 different school districts where resident students could receive scholarships to attend a private school. Opponents of the voucher proposal have argued that the $100 million earmarked for these vouchers should be used to increase support of the public schools in these communities.

To assess the need for additional support, we compared the 78 voucher districts to the districts where vouchers would not be available (non-voucher districts). We further divide the non-voucher districts into 355 districts that have been measured to be inadequately funded and 66 districts determined to be adequately funded.* This descriptive comparison provides the average rates for each group of districts on three factors (1) per pupil funding shortfall, (2) student / teacher ratios, and (3) student demographics.

As demonstrated in Figures 1, 2, and 3, Pennsylvania’s proposed voucher districts are on average the most underfunded and the least able to provide high numbers of teachers, despite serving students with the greatest needs.

Figure 1. PA Funding Adequacy (2019-20)


Figure 2. PA Teachers Per 1,000 Students (2019-20)

Figure 3. PA Student Demographics (2019-20)

*Data is based on RFA’s recent report, “Pennsylvania School Funding and School Staffing Disparities.” RFA’s report relied on the school funding adequacy analysis of Dr. Mathew Kelley in his expert report prepared for William Penn SD et al. v. Pa. Dept. of Education et al. Seven adequately funded districts are included in voucher districts and the remaining 71 are included in non-voucher adequately funded districts.