Does school choice improve student performance?

Is America the only country that has enacted school choice legislation?

What does the research say about school choice and education tax credits?

The answers just might surprise you.

In the U.S., more than half of the states have adopted a private school choice program. Some have multiple choice programs; there are a total of 63 voucher, education savings account, and tax credit/deduction programs nationwide.

According to meta-analysis of school choice research by Greg D. Forster, PhD, school choice programs improve proficiency scores of participants, help students move from more segregated public schools to more diverse private schools, enhance students’ knowledge of civic values, and save taxpayers money.

America isn’t the only country that values parental choice in education.

Many countries, including Germany, Chile, South Korea, Norway, France, Scotland, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, and, Belgium, help parents afford tuition at private schools. While not all programs have been studied, research on the effectiveness of school choice in Sweden, Chile, Columbia, and England has found a positive correlation between school choice and higher education outcomes.

Chile has one of the largest school choice programs in the world. Roughly half of the nation’s students attend private schools, most with the support of state funds.

Several studies have found that students who switched to private schools with the support of a scholarship performed better than their peers who did not switch.

A recent study by Argentinian Professor Mariano Narodowski compared student performance on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) from 2000 to 2015 among Latin American countries.

Chile, which has a decades-old universal voucher program, not only out performed its national peers, the country has experienced greater academic improvement during those five years than all but one other country.

The study also found that Chilean schools enjoy significant autonomy and can thus specialize and innovate to attract students. Of the countries studied, Chile, alone, has a quasi-market driven education system where families can choose from among different public and private schools that compete for students.

The other South American countries in the study do not have choice programs, although some subsidize private schools directly. They have quasi-state monopolies with most students attending public schools. Moreover the schools exhibit comparatively less autonomy than Chilean schools.

Competition and choice make a difference. Chile’s students performed the highest in reading, math, and science. Although all of the countries in the study showed some improvement between 2000 and 2015, Chile’s improvement surpassed every country except Peru.

The new study adds to the body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of school choice. When parents can choose from a variety of education settings, those schools work hard to attract and retain students. When students can select the school that best meets their needs, public or private, they do better than when they are assigned to a school just based on where they live.

School choice makes a difference for individual students and for the nation’s students as a whole.

What are your thoughts?

Should the US follow Chile’s lead and expand the choice and options for students to achieve, or should they strictly be assigned to quasi-state monopoly education? Sounds a little boring, but sound off and let us know on Facebook!

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