To the Editor:
Test scores are at the center of fierce battles between pro- and anti-school-choice forces. However, Walt Gardner made a great point in his blog post, as made clear in the post’s headline, “Choice Is Not Based on Performance Alone” (May 29, 2017).
Indeed, long before any inkling that a presidential administration—much less one led by Donald Trump—would be promoting the idea of a national school choice program, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice (now EdChoice) published a study in 2013 indicating that test scores actually are one of the least-important considerations for parents in choosing a school.
Among the factors weighing more heavily in parent decisionmaking are student-teacher ratio, classroom discipline, safety, moral values, and individual attention paid to students. For some parents, the availability of top-notch athletics or clubs may even be paramount. Who is to say that their priorities are out of whack? If parents are pleased with a school, chances are the level of parental involvement will be high, and that will help boost a culture of achievement.
Senior Fellow for Education Policy
The Heartland Institute
Arlington Heights, Ill.
A version of this article appeared in the June 21, 2017 edition of Education Week as Test Scores Are Not a Priority for School-Choice Parents