Competition Leads to Higher Scores on International Tests

Andrew Coulson has an excellent post at Cato’s blog explaining how a National Center for Education Statistics study that shows little testing advantage of private schools only over public schools to casts no doubt on the value of vouchers, because the value of vouchers lies in creating a competitive education marketplace.  He explains that

A vigorous free market in education requires that all families have easy access to the schools of their choice (whether public or private); that schools are not burdened with extensive regulations on what they can teach, whom they can hire, and what they can charge, etc.; that consumers directly pay at least some of the cost of the service; that private schools not be discriminated against financially by the state in the distribution of education funding, and that at least a substantial minority of private schools be operated for profit…

Competitive markets are characterized by innovation, inexorable improvements in cost effectiveness and the quality of goods and services, and the rapid growth of the most successful providers. None of this has occurred in the U.S. private education sector, precisely because that sector does not constitute a competitive market.

One wonders if the lack of market competition between schools has any correlation to American students’ lack of competitiveness on international tests.  It may very well, as a study in Education Next finds a positive correlation between students’ scores on math and science tests and the amount of competition publicly managed schools face from privately managed schools.