Teachers’ unions claim that school choice is a zero-sum game, but there is growing evidence to the contrary. The latest study shows a positive correlation between the educational options offered by the states and the test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
Researchers from the University of Arkansas School Choice Demonstration Project developed an Education Freedom Index to measure school election environments in the state and Washington, DC. The index takes into account offers for private school choice such as vouchers and tax credit scholarships, home tuition and public school choice (i.e. ability to switch schools or districts) and charter schools.
Arizona, which has educational savings accounts, tax credit grants, and extensive charter school programs, ranks first. Indiana is second and Hawaii is last.
The study finds that the rankings correlate strongly with the state NAEP scores for 8th grade math and reading. “Greater freedom of education” The authors write, “Significantly associated with higher NAEP performance levels and higher NAEP performance gains in all of their models between 2003 and 2019”.
Each model controls spend per student, student-teacher ratio, household income, and percentage of white students. Some models also control teacher quality guidelines, including education, assessment guidelines, and compensation requirements.