Mississippi has the nation’s only school choice program created exclusively for students with dyslexia. Enacted and launched in 2012, the program provides vouchers to families of children with dyslexia to attend accredited private schools with dyslexia therapy programs. On this page, learn more about the program’s funding, eligibility, and restrictions.
Mississippi allows children with dyslexia to receive vouchers to attend accredited private schools that provide dyslexia therapy.
The maximum voucher amount is equal to the Mississippi Adequate Education Program base student cost, i.e., the funding amount provided by the state to public schools.
Students must be in first through sixth grade and have been screened properly and diagnosed with dyslexia. Students are eligible if they attended a public school before or a private school that “emphasizes instruction in dyslexia intervention.” The voucher is not available to fund homeschooling, virtual schools, or students in juvenile detention schools.
Mississippi’s Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship program has room to grow in a few areas. On funding, the voucher amount is equivalent to the average amount of state spending per student, not the average amount of state spending per student with special needs. For this reason, the Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship program has one of the lowest funding amounts when compared with other voucher programs for students with special needs. The program’s regulations also could become burdensome for private schools; for example, the state board of education is given authority to extend the length of the school day or year for private schools and even develop curriculum and determine textbooks. One way this program could expand to great success would be to mirror Florida’s, Georgia’s, and Oklahoma’s voucher programs for students with special needs. Because the program is set to expire July 1, 2016, the state should allow qualifying students to be automatically eligible for the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Program.
Miss. Code Ann. §§ 37-173-1 through 31
No legal challenges have been filed against the program.