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Common Core Delay Is an Opportunity for Real Education Reform: As I See It

May 31, 2013 in Economics

By Jason Bedrick

Jason Bedrick

Gov. Tom Corbett’s decision to delay implementation of controversial national education standards provides an opportunity to refocus efforts on expanding an education initiative with proven success: Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.

Pennsylvania should continue to empower parents and liberate educators through school choice.”

Last week, Gov. Corbett ordered the delay of the state’s Common Core Standards, which school districts had been set to start implementing in just under two months. Common Core is a federally-backed initiative intended to create uniform standards across states.

Chief among myriad concerns, Common Core incentivizes top-down conformity. Standardized tests compel schools to teach the same concepts on the same schedule, without regard to the interests or abilities of individual students. If the goal is to provide a quality education to each unique student, a one-size-fits-all approach is clearly not the right one.

In explaining the administration’s decision, Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller emphasized that Corbett “remains committed to ensuring that all Pennsylvania public school students—regardless of zip code—have access to a quality education.” 

If so, the governor should redirect his efforts toward expanding the EITC program.

The EITC program grants 75 to 90 percent tax credits to corporations in return for donations to nonprofit scholarship organizations that fund assistance to low-income students. 

Since its inception in 2001, more than 350,000 EITC scholarships have been awarded to students so they can attend the schools of their choice. There are currently more than 45,000 low-income students receiving EITC scholarships.

While there is no research demonstrating that national standards like the Common Core would improve student outcomes, there are numerous high-quality studies showing that parental choice and competition between independent and public schools improve academic performance, raise graduation rates, and increase college matriculation.

A recent literature review by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice reported that 11 of 12 random assignment studies—the gold standard of social science research—found that school choice improves student outcomes. Only one found no visible, positive impact, and not one found negative results. 

Moreover, studies of Florida’s scholarship tax credit program found modest but statistically significant increases in the academic performance of both public school students and students who move to independent schools as a result of the increased choice and competition.

A wider review of hundreds of international studies using various methodologies revealed that the education systems that produce better outcomes are not those that are more centralized but rather those that are closer to a free market. The review found that by …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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