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Evidence Clearly Supports School Choice

July 19, 2019 in Economics

By Adrian T. Moore, Corey A. DeAngelis

Adrian T. Moore and Corey A. DeAngelis

Florida families are lucky.

They have access to better education opportunities for their
children through the Sunshine State’s five private school
choice programs. And the most rigorous evidence suggests that these
choices are good for students and their communities. Let’s
take a look at the data.

The best studies on the effects of school choice are
“random assignment” where the kids who go to charters
and who don’t are chosen at random from all applicants. The
majority (10) of the sixteen such studies of private school choice
programs find positive effects on student test scores overall or
for subgroups. Only two of the 16 evaluations find negative effects
on student test scores. And it’s worth noting that both of
the studies finding negative effects on test scores evaluated the
same group of students in the heavily regulated Louisiana
Scholarship Program. The remaining four studies do not find
statistically significant effects on students’ test
scores.

But studies finding no difference in test scores across sectors
imply a positive taxpayer return-on-investment because voucher
funding amounts are almost always below per pupil funding levels in
traditional public schools. For instance, the most recent federal
evaluation of the D.C. voucher program found that students achieved
the same math and reading outcomes for about a third of the
cost.

But, of course, we shouldn’t only focus on the evidence
linking school choice to standardized test scores. After all,
researchers have found that test scores might be weak proxies for
long-term success.

It turns out that the non-test-score outcomes lean much more
positive for school choice, perhaps because families care about
much more than test scores. Nine rigorous studies link private
school choice programs to “student
attainment”—graduating from high school and going to
college. Seven of the nine studies find positive effects overall or
for subgroups of students. For example, two evaluations of the
Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTC) have found positive
effects on college enrollment. Two of the nine existing studies
find no effects. Zero find negative effects.

With school safety a major concern in Florida now, six rigorous
studies link private school choice to student safety. Every single
study finds statistically significant positive effects on safety.
For example, the most recent federal evaluation of the D.C. voucher
program found a 35 percent increase in the likelihood students
reported being in “very safe” schools. But these
results shouldn’t surprise us very much. Families care about
their children’s safety more than anyone else.

But that’s not all. The preponderance of the most rigorous
evidence also suggests that private school choice improves civic
outcomes, reduces crime, and leads to racial integration.
What’s more – the evidence clearly shows the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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