Press Release

New Report Reveals Ties Between School Choice Policies and Student Achievement

New Report Reveals Ties Between School Choice Policies and Student Achievement

Report ranks states comparing state education policies to NAEP data

Washington, D.C. (April 1, 2013)—State-based school choice initiatives, voucher programs and alternative teacher certification measures positively impact the achievement rates of students, according to a new report released by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The 18th Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform found that among other initiatives, alternative teacher certification mirrored improvement in academic achievement, with Florida leading the way in implementing alternative certification programs. Data between 2003 and 2011 show Florida’s alternative teacher certifications, along with its school voucher initiatives and curbing of social promotion policies, have coincided with an increase in student test scores.

The report highlights the states that adopted similar policies to Florida’s in 2012. While Massachusetts continues to lead the states on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, other states that have adopted school choice policies have seen an increase in test scores, including Indiana, which leads the states in education reform policy.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to provide our nation’s students with the tools they need to succeed,” said Dr. Matthew Ladner, the report’s co-author. “While there are many factors that affect student achievement, our report identifies trends between freedom of choice in education and student test scores.”

The report grades all 50 states and the District of Columbia according to NAEP scores, state education policies, charter school regulations and other benchmarks. Additionally, the report discusses what administrators, parents and teachers can do to make a difference in enhancing the educational opportunities available for students across the country.

Authors Matthew Ladner and Dan Lips’ state education rankings are based on two factors, the first being  student performance and progress on NAEP exams:

Student Performance (2011 NAEP Scores)

Top Five

1. Massachusetts
2. Vermont
3. New Jersey
4. Colorado
5. Pennsylvania

Bottom Five

47. Missouri
48. Mississippi
49. Louisiana
50. South Carolina
51. West Virginia

The authors then assign states a letter grade based on education reform policies, including academic standards, school choice programs, charter schools, online learning and “Last-In, First-Out” (LIFO) policies.

Education Reform Policy Grades

2012 Highest Scoring Reform States 

“B+” Indiana
“B+” Arizona
“B+” Oklahoma
“B” Florida
“B” Ohio

2012 Lowest Scoring Reform States

“D+” West Virginia
“D+” South Dakota
“D” Montana
“D” North Dakota
“D” Nebraska

“The Report Card on American Education provides parents, educators and lawmakers with the resources they need to make informed education decisions,” said Exchange Council Executive Director Ron Scheberle. “As America works to restore its academic competitiveness, it’s critical that decision makers be armed with key insights on where the greatest attention for education policy reform is needed.”

To view the Report Card on American Education and to see individual state education data, visit or


The American Legislative Exchange Council is the largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators in the United States. The Council is governed by state legislators who comprise the Board of Directors and is advised by the Private Enterprise Advisory Council, a group of private, foundation and think tank members. For more information about the American Legislative Exchange Council, please visit:  

Contact: Molly Fuhs
202-742-8512 x230