A nonpublic school may accept Opportunity Scholarship students on the condition of adherence to definitive accountability standards. Those who fail to comply with the following requirements will be ineligible to receive future scholarship grants.
Financial and Administrative Accountability
- The Opportunity Scholarship Program is administered by the NC State Education Assistance Authority (Authority), having been established in 1965, and whose secretariat is provided by the University of North Carolina.
- Provide to the Authority a national criminal background check executed for the staff member who has the highest decision-making authority at the school.
- Provide to the Authority documentation for required tuition and fees charged to the student by the nonpublic school. A nonpublic school that accepts students receiving scholarship grants shall not require any additional fees based on the status of the student as a scholarship grant recipient.
- Contract with a certified public accountant to perform a financial review for each school year in which the school enrolls 70 or more students who use scholarship funds from the K12 programs for at least one semester.
- Administer, at least once each school year, a nationally standardized test to all Opportunity Scholarship students enrolled in grades three through twelve which measures achievement in the areas of English grammar, reading, spelling, and mathematics.
- Provide to the parent or guardian of an Opportunity Scholarship student an annual written explanation of the student’s progress, including the student’s scores on standardized achievement tests.
- A nonpublic school enrolling more than 25 Opportunity Scholarship students shall report to the Authority the aggregate standardized test performance of those students which shall be public record.
- Provide to the Authority the graduation rates of the students receiving scholarship grants in a manner consistent with nationally recognized standards.
Comparative Analysis and Reporting Mandate
- The Authority shall report annually to the NC General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee and shall be conducted by an independent research organization (public or private entity or university).
- The findings shall prompt an analysis of the learning gains and losses of Opportunity Scholarship students compared public school students with similar socioeconomic backgrounds, using aggregate standardized test performance data provided by the nonpublic school and by the NC Department of Public Instruction.
- Furthermore, the analysis will report on the impact of the availability of scholarship grants on public school performance on standardized tests by local school administrative units to the extent possible, and shall provide comparisons of the impact by geographic region and between rural and urban local school administrative units.
- The Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee shall make ongoing recommendations to the NC General Assembly regarding improving administration and accountability for nonpublic schools accepting Opportunity Scholarship students.
- A nonpublic school shall not discriminate with respect to race, color, or national origin, in accordance with The Civil Rights Act.