June 1, 2016

The Senate budget released Tuesday night funds 20,000 opportunity scholarships to give children in need a shot at a quality education.

And once again, research shows giving children an opportunity scholarship so they can go to the school of their choice improves classroom achievement.

The Wall Street Journal reports the University of Arkansas found opportunity scholarship students in the U. S. and other countries make significant academic gains compared to non-scholarship students. The study is particularly important because it compares students with similar backgrounds and parental involvement.

The Journal reported, ”The study’s most important news is that voucher students show “statistically significant” improvement in math and reading test scores. The researchers found that vouchers on average increase the reading scores of students who get them by about 0.27 standard deviations and their math scores by about 0.15 standard deviations. In laymen’s terms, this means that on average voucher students enjoy the equivalent of several months of additional learning compared to non-voucher students.” (5/27/16)

And the gains are not short term but increase after children have been in an opportunity scholarship program a few years.

Our survey showed 58% of voters favor expanding opportunity scholarships to reach more low-income families and 54% want them expanded to middle-class families. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents support expanding opportunity scholarships.

The State Senate just took 20,000 steps in the right direction.