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Report Cherry-Picks a Simple Comparison to Support Its Conclusions About School Choice

BOULDER, CO (July 15, 2021) A recent report from Kentucky’s Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions claims, with little supporting evidence, that trends from the 1990s to 2019 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show that choice programs catalyze significant educational improvement.

Sam Abrams and Steven Koutsavlis of Teachers College, Columbia University, reviewed Florida Versus Kentucky: School Choice Improves Public School Performance, Too, and determined that its findings fall far short in proving the efficacy of school choice programs.

The NAEP is administered to a sample of students in all 50 states every two years, and the report selectively looks at data from two of these states: Florida and Kentucky. The report claims that greater improvement in NAEP scores over this time period for students in Florida, home to much school choice, as compared to students in Kentucky, home to none, demonstrates that Florida’s school choice programs have been a success. The report thus concludes that the passage in March of Kentucky’s first voucher program should be embraced as a first step in following in Florida’s path.

This review rejects that determination for two reasons, both related to the cherry-picking of Florida as the comparison state. First, the report overlooks the intensity of Florida’s focus on preparing students for annual state exams in reading and math since the implementation of its A+ Accountability Plan in 1999, which appears to have had a substantial impact on the state’s NAEP scores. Second, in focusing on Florida, the report fails to acknowledge that the majority of the 10 states with the most choice programs (as measured by percentage of students enrolled in charter schools) fell short of Kentucky in posting gains on NAEP over this time period.

The review therefore concludes that much more evidence than this report provides is necessary for drawing clear lessons about the implications of Florida’s school choice strategy for Kentucky or any other state.

Find the review, by Samuel E. Abrams and Steven J. Koutsavlis, at:

Find Florida Versus Kentucky: School Choice Improves Public School Performance, Too, written by Richard G. Innes and published by the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, at:

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