Exploring Arizona’s Private Education Sector
By Drew Catt
Exploring Arizona’s Private Education Sector is the seventh installment in our School Survey Series. EdChoice Director of State Research and Policy Analysis Drew Catt surveyed Arizona private school leaders about the state’s educational choice programs, especially its Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, as well as their schools’ enrollment capacity, tuition rates, student demographics and more. This report brings together those results along with U.S. Department of Education data to paint a detailed picture of Arizona’s private education sector.
In this report, you will learn:
Most Arizona private schools would participate in a universal education savings account (ESA) program.There’s more room to educate Arizona private schools about ESAs. When it comes to educational choice programs, only 66 percent of respondent Arizona private schools said they are familiar with education savings accounts (ESAs); 64 percent said they currently enroll students that participate in Arizona’s ESA program; 47 percent of the schools not currently participating said they would or probably would participate in Arizona’s current ESA program; and 62 percent of respondents said they would or probably would participate in an expanded ESA program that is open to all students.
Arizona private schools have the capacity to serve a lot more students.Arizona’s private schools have enough empty seats to increase current private school enrollment (45,019 students) by approximately 37 percent based on data EdChoice collected from an assumed representative sample of the state’s private schools. Thus, total enrollment capacity could be reasonably estimated to exceed 61,000 seats, including those currently filled by students.
Most Arizona private schools are likely affordable for most with ESAs, but tax-credit scholarship funding amounts might fall short for many families.More than half of the respondent private schools charge combined tuition and fees rates less than $6,000 for students in prekindergarten through elementary school. Nearly half charge $6,000 or more for middle school; 43 percent charge $10,000 or more for high school. Half of the schools provide an average of up to $3,000 in tuition assistance per student, and half provide tuition assistance to up to 34 percent of their students. The average per-student funding in Arizona’s educational choice programs range from $1,496 in 2014–15 for the “Switcher” Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program to $11,191 in 2015–16 for the ESA program.
Arizona private school students have grown more racially and ethnically diverse over time.More than half of Arizona private school students are white (58 percent), whereas 41 percent of Arizona’s public school students identify as white. However, the population size of Arizona’s white private school students fell 32 percent from 2005–06 to 2013–14, whereas the population of white Arizona public school students fell by 14 percent in that same time period. Notably, the overall size of Arizona’s white population increased slightly more than 2 percent from 2006 to 2013. As of the 2013–14 school year, 58 percent of Arizona private school students identified themselves as white; 24 percent as Hispanic or Latino; 5 percent as Asian/Pacific Islander; 5 percent as multiracial; 4 percent as American Indian/Alaska Native; and 4 percent as black.