Study: School choice in Indiana led to savings for state

Researchers at Ball State University used data on 2019-20 student transfers among public, public school charter, and private school options to examine differences in state funding.

Editor’s note: This post appeared earlier today on Inside Indiana Business.

A new study from Ball State University shows Indiana’s school choice options saved the state nearly $90 million for the 2019-2020 academic year. The study, conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research, indicates the savings equates to about 1% of the state’s general fund spending on education.

The study, “School Choice and State Spending on Education in Indiana” examined transfer data on students at traditional public school districts and charter schools in 2019-20. It also looked at students attending private schools through the Indiana Choice Scholarship program.

Dagney Faulk, director of research at the CBER, co-authored the study along with CBER Director Michael Hicks and says the findings will help taxpayers and lawmakers better understand the advantages and disadvantages of the use of vouchers, charter schools and open enrollment programs.

Charter and voucher programs, the university says, allow students to attend schools other than the traditional public school in the district in which they live. Open enrollment, however, allows students to attend a traditional public school outside of their home district. 

“As of yet, we don’t have much information about the academic impact of school choice in Indiana, but this analysis examining the fiscal impact shows that choice has resulted in savings to the state because more students transfer out of districts with the highest levels of per-student funding than into these districts,” Faulk said.

The study says 5.7% of public and private school students transferred from their home district to another traditional public school. However, nearly 4% attended charter schools and 3.2% attended private schools using vouchers.

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