Study Finds School Choice Does Not Harm Student Outcomes in Wisconsin Public Schools

Jeff Zymeri:

School choice programs in Wisconsin have not significantly affected outcomes for public school students or led to a decline in their test scores, according to a study released on Monday.

Will Flanders, research director at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, which commissioned the study alongside School Choice Wisconsin, told National Review that this finding goes directly against one of the main talking points of school choice opponents.

Instead of finding test scores in steep decline, the study saw small positive shifts in reading scores and no statistically significant effect on math scores. Wisconsin has been offering private school alternatives since the 1990s.

Critics often argue that school choice not only diverts critical resources from public schools, but also that choice schools will “skim” the best students, leading to a group of students in public schools that is more challenging to educate. “We have a long track record of this program in Wisconsin and we have no evidence in support of that notion,” Flanders said.

Flanders said Milton Friedman’s notion of school choice as providing the necessary competition to lift all ships is at the heart of the study’s findings.

“When the public school monopoly actually has to deal with competitors, for the first time in many instances, they’re forced to start listening to the desires and needs of families in their communities and that results in improved performance,” said Flanders. “They’re required to become more efficient.”

The study builds upon past research on the Milwaukee Public Schools to include data on outcomes in Racine Public Schools and schools throughout Wisconsin.

More, here.

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