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Is Too Much School Choice a Bad Thing?

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Monday, November 12, 2012 at 10:30 AM

In Ohio's largest urban school districts, about 30 percent of students enrolled on Oct. 1 come and go during the course of the school year, according to a report released last week by the Fordham Institute and 11 other funders. The study was based on state data from 2009-2011.

And students who move around a lot tend to do worse in school, the report found.

Having that many students change schools during the year might show that Ohio has too much school choice--too many charter schools, too many private-school vouchers, too many options--the Columbus school district's government affairs director told Gongwer News Service:

"One way, I think, that this report can be useful for policymakers is to sort of consider the question of is there a tipping point when it comes to choice," he said. "Is there a point where choice actually becomes detrimental to overall academic performance, and at what point is that, and are we there."

But the Fordham Institute, which generally supports "school choice," suggests that having students changing schools can be a good thing, especially if they're moving to better-performing schools:

This mobility study indicates that there is a considerable amount of upward student mobility in the Buckeye State. Consider, for example, the number per students moving from failing urban public schools (D or F rated) to more successful suburban schools (A or B rated schools) in metro Columbus.

Of the 5,473 students over two years who exited Columbus City Schools (CCS) for another district, 52 percent moved to a school with a performance rating at least two ratings higher than their CCS school of origin. The percentages [were] similar for Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton and Toledo and it shows us that many kids across the state are moving to a better situation when they change schools.

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