NEPC Review: Florida Versus Kentucky: School Choice Improves Public School Performance, Too (Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, May 2021)
As an increasing number of states adopt or expand choice programs in the form of charter schools, vouchers, tuition tax-credit scholarships, and education savings accounts, questions grow about their efficacy. This review analyzes a recent report from Kentucky’s Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions claiming that NAEP score trends for Florida and Kentucky from the 1990s to 2019 exhibit sufficient evidence that choice programs catalyze significant educational improvement. This review rejects that determination for two reasons. 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 top 10 states with 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.