NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Manhattan Institute Study: Education Freedom and Student Performance

September 21, 2000

A new study by Jay P. Greene, published by the Manhattan Institute [not the Urban Institute, as suggested in the Sept. 19 DPD - ed. note], ranks the states on an Index of Education Freedom constructed by the author.

The index measures education freedom, or choice in education, based on such factors as the density of charter schools in the state, the existence or lack of interdistrict school choice and degree of regulation of homeschooling.

Furthermore, the IEF score of the states is a significant predictor of students' achievement, as measured by their performance on standardized tests, such as the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) and the SAT.

  • A one point rise in EFI for a state would increase the percentage of students performing proficiently on NAEP by 5.5 percent, Greene predicts.
  • A $1,000 boost in median household income would lead to a .3 percent increase in the percentage of students performing proficiently on NAEP.
  • But per pupil spending and average class size in each state have no significant effect on the percentage of students who perform proficiently on NAEP.

In addition, a one point increase in the Education Freedom Index leads to a 24 point increase in SAT verbal and math scores. Conversely, an increase in the minority population of one percentage point is associated with a 1 point decline in SAT verbal and math scores while household income, per pupil spending and class size are not independently significantly related to SAT scores, although the income measure is close to significant in predicting SAT verbal scores.

Source: Jay P. Greene, "The Education Freedom Index," foreword by Chester E. Finn, Jr., Civic Report No. 14, September 2000, Manhattan Institute, 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, N.Y. 10017, (212) 599-7000.

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