NEPC Review: The Education Choice and Competition Index: Background and Results 2012 (December 2012)
In this report the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution presents the results of a self-developed Education Choice and Competition Index (ECCI) along with an interactive application that grades large school districts according to the ECCI. The index is composed of 13 pro choice criteria. The authors present the ECCI as a new approach to education policy, but the ideas are not new. The report repeats many of the same arguments and logic found in other pro-market publications over the past 25 years. The sole unique recommendation is to permit “popularity” to serve as an adequate standard to judge school quality and a sufficient criterion by which to direct taxpayer dollars. Yet, this recommendation also hearkens back to previous calls, common in the 1990s, for unregulated school choice policies. The ECCI assumes benefits of market competition, but these benefits depend on how parents choose schools, and the report includes no research on how parents make school choice decisions. It is also devoid of any evidence that higher scores on the ECCI are related to the outcomes that the authors predict. In fact, the only large district with an “A” rating per the ECCI received a “D” according to its state accountability system. In essence, the report reads like an essay in support of free-market choice policies. Because of the dated assumptions and the subjective nature of the index, the study and its rankings fall short of being an effective policy tool.