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Academic Myths About School Choice Scholarships


Florida public schools are performing better than ever, even as the state has expanded state-supported private school scholarships and other educational choice options. Florida students now rank No. 1, No. 1, No. 3 and No. 8 on the four core tests for the National Assessment of Education Progress, once adjusted for demographics. (Source: Urban Institute.) Florida students now rank No. 3 in percentage of graduating seniors who’ve passed college-caliber Advanced Placement exams. (Source: College Board.) Florida’s graduation rate now stands at 86.1 percent, up from 52 percent in 1999. (Source: Florida Department of Education, here and here.) Education Week now ranks Florida No. 4 in K-12 Achievement, its highest ranking ever. (Source: Education Week’s Quality Counts report.) Further, a 2010 study by Northwestern University researcher David Figlio found competitive effects of the scholarship led to test score gains in public schools. (Source: National Bureau of Economic Research.)

Myth Buster #1

Scholarships fail students

For 10 consecutive years, FTC students – who are among the most economically disadvantaged and lowest- performing students in the public schools they leave behind – have achieved the same solid test score gains in reading and math as students of all income levels n‍‍‍ationally. For more, click here. More importantly, a report released in February by the Urban Institute found students using the scholarship are up to 43 percent more likely to enroll in four-year colleges than their peers in public schools, and up to 20 percent more likely to earn bachelor’s degrees. Students who use the scholarship four or more years are up to 45 percent more likely to earn bachelor’s degrees. (Source: Urban Institute.)

Myth Buster #2

Private schools cherry-pick higher performing students

If private schools are attempting to cherry pick, they’re failing miserably. A decade’s worth of standardized test results shows students on scholarship are typically the lowest-performing students from the lowest-performing public schools. Scholarship students are more likely to be a racial minority and have lower-incomes than eligible students who remain in public schools. All of the annual test score analyses can be found here.

Myth Buster #3

Voucher students return to public schools worse off than before

Critics continue to repeat the charge that private schools are to blame for low performance of scholarship students who return to public schools, even though education researchers have dismissed it. In his 2013 report on the performance of scholarship students, Northwestern University Professor David Figlio wrote this: “FTC participants who return to the public sector performed, after their first year back in the public schools, in the same ballpark but perhaps slightly better on the FCAT than they had before they left the Florida public schools. The most careful reading of this evidence indicates that participation in the FTC program appears to have neither advantaged nor disadvantaged the program participants who ultimately return to the public sector. Rather, the evidence strongly points to an explanation that the poor apparent FCAT performance of FTC program returnees is actually a result of the fact that the returning students are generally particularly struggling students.”

Myth Buster #4

Scholarships are hurting public schools academically

According to the latest report from the Learning Systems Institute, 30.3 percent of scholarship students came from “A” or “B” rated public schools, significantly more than the 22.9 percent that come from “D” or “F” rated public schools. School grades can be useful measures for a school’s overall performance, but they don’t speak to whether an individual student is finding success or not. Some students in A schools struggle, just as some students in F schools excel. The point of the scholarship is to give more parents more options so they can find a school that is the right fit for their child.

Myth Buster #5

Public school grades is intended to make schools look bad so parents choose scholarships

FLORIDA'S Graduation Rate Rising Rapidly Over The Last  20 years

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Study: School choice scholarship students more likely to earn bachelor’s degrees

The largest private school choice program in America got more solid evidence of its effectiveness Monday.

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