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Did You Know? 10 Fast Facts on School Choice

Helping more children escape underperforming schools through expanded school choice options is a key priority for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. As Chairman John Kline (R-MN) recently said, “Charter schools, magnet schools, and scholarship programs have provided thousands of families new hope and opportunity, helping put countless children on the path to a brighter future.” 

In honor of National School Choice Week, the committee has compiled a list of fast facts that highlight innovative programs and policies that are providing new options for families and students across the nation:

  • FACT #1: Support for school choice is growing. According to a 2013 public opinion survey, 73 percent of Americans support school choice, compared with 67 percent in 2010.
  • FACT #2: The House-passed Student Success Act expands school choice options for students nationwide. The Student Success Act, approved by the House last summer, includes a number of provisions to support opportunities for parents to enroll their children in local magnet schools and charter schools, and enhance statewide parental engagement. Learn more here. 
  • FACT #3: More than eighty percent of states embrace charter schools. Since the first charter school legislation was enacted by Minnesota in 1992, 42 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to support the funding and authorizing of public charter schools. In the 2012-2013 school year, more than 500 new charter schools opened across the country. The nation’s 6,200 charter schools educate two million students.
  • FACT #4: Charter schools continue to get results. Charter school students are excelling in the classroom. A 2013 study shows student achievement gains in Harlem charter schools equate to 7 months of additional instruction each school year; in Boston those gains equal 12 months of additional instruction.
  • FACT #5: Demand for magnet schools remains high. A survey conducted by the Magnet Schools of America reports 75 percent of magnet schools currently have wait lists. These public schools often have a specific focus, such as science and technology, math, or the humanities, and help prepare students for in-demand jobs.
  • FACT #6: Open enrollment programs are raising student achievement. A recent study on open enrollment finds students who leave poor performing schools outscore their former classmates by 14 percentage points in reading and 15 percentage points in math.
  • FACT #7: The Student Success Act includes a landmark “portability” provision to encourage public school choice. The Student Success Act gives states the option of allowing Title I dollars to follow disadvantaged kids to the public school of their choice. This ensures all low-income students receive their fair share of federal dollars and promotes parental choice.
  • FACT #8: Digital learning is increasingly popular. Since 2010, enrollment in full-time online schools has increased by more than 50 percent. For the 2013-2014 school year, 310,000 students are enrolled in full-time online schools, and 29 states operate state-wide online programs. Additionally, the Foundation for Excellence in Education reports a growing number of states are offering course choice programs that provide students access to a catalog of online courses that complement the classes they take in a traditional school setting.
  • FACT #9: Online and blended learning can help educators teach more effectively. A 2013 study in Idaho found 87 percent of teachers say blended learning can increase parent-teacher communication, 77 percent believe it can improve teachers’ ability to monitor student work, and 65 percent say it fosters student participation.
  • FACT #10: Homeschool student achievement continues to impress. A 2013 study shows rates of homeschool enrollment surpass rates of public school enrollment by more than 7 to 1. Homeschool students also surpass public school students in educational achievement – typically scoring between the 65th and 89th percent of test takers in state standardized tests.

Each of these initiatives is paving the way toward a stronger education system, but Congress can do more to expand school choice by sending the Student Success Act to the president’s desk. The House Education and the Workforce Committee calls on the Senate to bring the Student Success Act up for a vote and help ensure all students have access to the education that best meets their unique needs.

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