NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States With Education Options Reap Academic Results

January 23, 2002

Evidence presented in a new Manhattan Institute 2001 Education Freedom Index verifies that students in states with greater education choices have significantly higher test scores.

The index measures four types of educational freedoms: the ability of parents to pursue charter school options, subsidized private schools, public school choice and home-schooling.

Because the range of educational options varies widely from state to state, it is possible to examine whether education freedom is associated with better academic outcomes.

  • For example, Minnesota, which ranks fifth in the index, increased the percentage of its students performing proficiently on the math section of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) by 17 percent during the 1990s -- almost double the increase nationally.
  • On the other hand, North Dakota, which ranks 44th in educational freedom, only increased the percentage performing proficiently on the NAEP math test by 4 percent.
  • Florida, which has initiated or expanded a wide series of educational options for parents, went from 35th to 4th place on the index -- which, according to a statistical analysis of the report, should result in an additional 2 percent of students performing proficiently on the NAEP math section.
  • While this may not sound like a big leap, the state would have to increase per pupil spending by more than 20 percent to realize the same gain, according to the statistical model used to construct the index.

So offering parents a range of choices not only helps boost test scores, it also costs taxpayers less.

Source: Jay P. Greene (Manhattan Institute for Policy Research), "School Choice = Higher Test Scores," Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2002; Jay P. Greene, "2001 Education Freedom Index," Civic Report No. 24, January 2002, Manhattan Institute.

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For Education Freedom Index text


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