by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A new research study offers good news for supporters of North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program. Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina highlights the news:
Raleigh, NC – Researchers from North Carolina State University (NCSU) announced positive findings today from the first-ever academic impact analysis evaluating North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program. Use of an Opportunity Scholarship was associated with higher standardized test scores for students in their first and second years of participation in the program. Estimated impacts of the program on achievement were “positive” and “large,” researchers found.
In year one of scholarship use, researchers found that scholarship students outperformed a matched group of public school students in reading, math, and language. In math and language, positive impacts were large. In year two, scholarship recipients continued to outscore their public school peers. Impacts for language achievement showed significant improvement, with scholarship students scoring nine points higher than public school students.
This study is the first in North Carolina to utilize an “apples-to-apples comparison” of scholarship and public school students. All students in the NCSU study took the same standardized test: the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), a nationally-normed exam that is not aligned with a particular curriculum. Researchers also matched students based on prior state End-of-Grade test scores, disciplinary incidents, and demographic characteristics. Students were “exact matched” based on family income, according to researchers.