(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Both Eduwonk and Charlie Barone are ga-ga for Delaware’s education reform results, and with good reason. Delaware has high-scoring minority students on NAEP, and have an admirable system of student testing that other states should study carefully.
I decided to run Delaware’s numbers against my favorite reform state, Florida, by comparing progress by low-income children on NAEP’s 4th grade reading exam.
And down the stretch they come! It’s Delaware by a nose!
Now, Delaware spends $11,633 per pupil in the public schools in 2006, while Florida was only at $7,759, which is 49% higher. However, these days, you don’t look the progress gift-horse in the mouth, even if it comes at a hefty price.
One could argue that Delaware shows that with the right kind of investment and commitment to standards, that you can improve student achievement without any of that messy school choice business.
Not so fast my friend!
It turns out that Delaware is discretely a haven for parental choice. Delaware has the nation’s 7th ranked charter school law according to the Center for Education Reform, and active inter and intra district choice programs. Add all of those up, and 15.5% of all K-12 students in Delaware are exercising choice through public options.
Delaware also has a large number of students attending private schools, and a little less than 2% home-schooling. Combine those, and you get over 20 percent of students exercising private choice.
If you add it all together, 35.7% of Delaware students are attending schools other than their assigned district school.
It just goes to show- standards and parental choice are two great tastes that taste great together.