A recently updated report of a 2020 study that concluded public school student performance improved along with the growth of state scholarship programs for lower-income students in private schools has reaffirmed those results, going beyond the original findings.
Additional research from David Figlio, Cassandra M.D. Hart and Kryzstof Karbownik answers the question: At which level does competition matter most, district or local?
The researchers found that competition faced by the district could be even more important than the marginal degree of competition faced by the individual school, citing as an example the fact that public education choice options, such as magnet and charter schools, may have expanded more rapidly in districts that faced greater private school competition.
The original report showed that in addition to achieving better test scores, the absentee rates and number of suspensions for public school students declined. Students showing the most dramatic effects were from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The findings ran contrary to longstanding claims from school choice opponents who claimed private school scholarship programs divert the best students from public schools and harm those left behind.
Figlio, Hart and Karbownik plan to continue exploring the subject in future versions of the study.
Their research is among many studies that demonstrate the benefits of school choice in Florida. In 2019, the left-of-center Urban Institute found that scholarship students were more likely to attend and graduate from college.
Additionally, more than a decade’s worth of evaluations, including the most recent from the Florida Learning Systems Institute, reveal that Florida’s most disadvantaged students have the same annual learning gains as all students of all income levels nationally.