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Education freedom linked to high test scores

QuickPoint!

The Manhattan Institute recently released its 2001 Education Freedom Index, which measures four types of educational freedom: the ability of parents to pursue charter school options, subsidized private schools, public school choice and home-schooling. Oregon ranked 16th, falling 11 places from the previous year. The drop in Oregon’s ranking occurred as other states sailed past Oregon to implement school choice reforms.

According to the report’s author Jay Greene, “Holding constant other factors that may influence academic performance, such as household income, race, and per pupil spending, states that offer greater education freedom have significantly higher student test scores.”

If Oregon could increase its education freedom index by one point, the state could expect an additional 4.1 percent of students to perform proficiently on the National Assessment of Educational Progress math test, according to the report. Considering that only 32 percent of Oregon’s eighth graders achieved proficiency on the math NAEP in 2000, this would mark a major increase in achievement. Without increasing educational freedom the state would have to annually spend an additional $2,490 per pupil, or more than $1.2 billion, to achieve similar results state-wide.

Policies to increase educational freedom are being implemented across the country at the state and local level. Cascade’s newest publication, School Choice Basics, offers an overview of education reform approaches that advance freedom and empower parents to select the best schools for their children.

Nick Weller is an education policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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