Teachers unions claim that school choice is a zero-sum game, but evidence is mounting to the contrary. The latest is a study that finds a positive correlation between the education options states offer and test results on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).
Researchers at the University of Arkansas’s School Choice Demonstration Project developed an Education Freedom Index to measure school-choice environments in the states and Washington, D.C. The index considers offerings for private school choice like vouchers and tax-credit scholarships, home-schooling, public school choice (i.e., ability to switch schools or districts), and charter schools.
Arizona, which has education savings accounts, tax-credit scholarships and expansive charter school programs, takes first place. Indiana is second, and Hawaii ranks last.
The study finds the rankings strongly correlate with state NAEP scores for 8th grade math and reading. ”Higher levels of education freedom,” the authors write, “are significantly associated with higher NAEP achievement levels and higher NAEP achievement gains” between 2003 and 2019 in all of their models.
Each model controls for per-pupil spending, student-teacher ratio, household income, and percentage of white students. Some models also control for teacher quality policies including education, evaluation policies and compensation requirements.