Yesterday School Choice Ohio held a discussion led by Matt Ladner, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Educational Choice who's conducted a mountain of research on school choice programs nationally and in Ohio. His research on Florida is germane not just for Ohio but for any state wishing to emulate Florida's success in moving the student achievement needle for its low-income and minority students.
You can view the full document here (or skip ahead to Ohio-specific policy recommendations; again, they're useful for other states), but the gist is simple. And impressive.
Over the last decade, Florida has managed to eke out steady improvements to student achievement (measured by fourth-grade scores on the NAEP), specifically for students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, and for Hispanic and African American students. For example, Florida's FRPL-eligible fourth graders saw a 14 percent increase in scale scores on the NAEP (reading) from 1998 to 2009. In contrast, Ohio fourth graders saw a drop, then a slight increase, and then an evening out such that their scores have gone virtually unchanged in 11 years. (However, despite raw scale scores going up, it was unclear from Ladner's presentation where the proficiency cut-off was and whether/to what extent more at-risk students are reaching actual proficiency.?
Perhaps most impressive is that when you compare Florida's minority youngsters with students statewide (including high-income and white students) in other states, in several instances the former outscores the latter. Florida's African-American students scored...