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School Choice Myths and Facts

April 14th 2021

Opposition to expanding private school choice (Voucher program) has four main talking points – NONE of which are true when looking at the scientific research and evidence.

MYTH 1:  Choice undermines public school funding and cost taxpayers/ public schools.

  • Students who receive a voucher make up 3% of our entire K-12 student population but they receive only 2% of the funding. (tuition support)
  • For the 2019-2020 school year, the average voucher amount was $4,707, compared to the average traditional public-school state tuition support amount of $6,872. A voucher student receives, on average, $2,000 less in state money for their education PLUS, voucher students do not receive any federal or local dollars.
  • In 2019-2020, the state awarded $172,776,489.99 in school vouchers. If each of those 36,707 voucher students would have attended their district public school instead of a private school, the state would have spent $239,239,229.73 in tuition support for those students.  That’s a savings to the state of $66,462,739.74.
  • 25 of 28 empirical studies on choice programs show a positive financial impact on taxpayers and school districts.  3 studies show choice programs are revenue neutral, and 0 studies showed negative effects.
  • Public schools retain their local and federal funding for children who leave the district.

MYTH 2:  Choice does not lead to better academic outcomes for students.

  • 2019 Student Growth Scores (Source:  DOE unredacted A-F student growth scores)
    • 23 of the top 50 schools for growth at the 10th grade level are voucher schools.
    • 8 out of the top 10 are voucher schools.
    • In fact, the top 5 schools in terms of growth are all voucher accepting schools.
  • Proficiency – 2018 I-Learn/ ISTEP Findings
  • 6 of the top 7 schools in the state on the I-Step 10 are non-public (voucher) schools
    • 25 of the top 50 high schools are non-public (voucher) schools
    • 19 of the top 50 grade 3-8 schools are non-public (voucher) schools
  • The Notre Dame Study – What it really says:
    • Students entering the voucher program are academically behind their public school peers
    • Based on ISTEP scores, voucher students are academically behind their public school peers in years 1 and 2 of attend a private school.
      • By years 3 and 4, voucher students catch-up in math and move ahead in English/ Language Arts
      • By years 5 and 6 they are expected to surpass their public school peers academically (the study did not gather data for this many years).

MYTH 3:  Choice programs do not have the same accountability as public schools.

  • Voucher accepting non-public schools must give ILEARN
    • Voucher accepting non-public schools get A-F grades just like all other schools
    • Unlike public schools, voucher accepting non-public schools are subject to consequences if they are low academic performers for 2 years (D or F rated schools)
    • Under the proposed ESA program, students would have to take ILearn or a test that can be correlated to ILearn (some schools which specialize in special needs students give an alternative test to ILearn but the scores can be correlated so there can be fair academic comparison).
    • The truest form of accountability is choice.  No one is automatically assigned to any non-public schools.  Parents have to choose to send their child to these schools and they can also choose to leave that school if it is not working.

MYTH 4:  Choice programs allow for discrimination.

  • 9/10 empirical studies show that choice programs lead to less segregation.
    • Voucher students are lower-income compared to traditional public school students
      • 70% of voucher students are on Free and Reduced Price Lunch compared to 47% of traditional public school students
    • Voucher students are more racially diverse compared to traditional public school students