NEPC Review: Education Freedom and Student Achievement: Is More School Choice Associated with Higher State-Level Performance on the NAEP? (University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform, March 2021)
A School Choice Demonstration Project report ranks states based on their expansion of market-oriented school policies such as vouchers, charters, homeschooling, and inter-district choice. It then compares this “education freedom” ranking to National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) scores, finding a positive correlation between “freedom” and these scores, and hints at a causal relationship between “education freedom” and student learning. However, the report ignores relevant peer-reviewed research that has found negative consequences of school choice reforms, and significant methodological flaws cast doubt on its findings. These shortcomings and others undermine the report’s conclusions and render it useless for purposes of guiding policymaking.