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Studies provide more proof school choice works

Earlier this year, a poll found a significant portion of the public approved of President Donald Trump’s school choice plan. The strong support probably exists because the respondents know school choice works. That’s because more and more studies are proving so.

In a piece published at The Daily Signal, Jonathan Butcher of the Goldwater Institute focuses on new studies from Louisiana and Indiana that find “the longer students attend a private school using a voucher, the more likely they are to catch up to their public school peers.”

From the article:

The Louisiana study finds that students using a voucher showed no significant change in their English and math test scores after three years.

This is good news—two previous evaluations of the Louisiana Scholarship Program found that voucher participation had a negative impact on student test scores during the first two years of participation. Yet by year three, researchers found students “recovered substantially” from the initial achievement losses.

Furthermore, students who were scoring lower than their peers when they applied for a voucher showed significant increases in English language arts (reading) scores after the third year.

Butcher writes that some have said the survey gives ammo to both sides of the school choice debate since test results are lower for students in their first few years in a private school. However, he argues “we should remember that an education is more than a test score.”

“Parental choices in education mean families have the school they want for their child, and in these new evaluations, test scores actually improved over time. That’s good news on both accounts,” he writes.

The Indiana study produces results mirroring those found in Louisiana, according to Butcher:

For the first few years that a child uses a voucher, researchers found negative effects on student test scores. But the research demonstrates that students remaining in a private school with a voucher after four years catch up to their peers in public school.

These studies join a list of more than a dozen such evaluations that have found mostly positive results for parental choice in education over the past 20 years.

Nevertheless, teacher unions and school board associations continue to fight efforts to give parents and children more learning options around the country.

Some research on private school choice has found neutral or negative results over the years, but such findings are in the minority.

Butcher writes the long-term effects should be looked at when dissecting social science, saying stakeholders “should look for studies that show better life outcomes.”

Read the full article.

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