Do results from standardized achievement tests predict a school choice program’s impact on longer term outcomes, such as high school graduation, college attainment, and earnings? A new white paper from the American Enterprise Institute answers that question with a resounding no.

Collin Hitt of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Michael Q. McShane of EdChoice, and Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas have undertaken what they describe as “one of the most thorough” reviews of the school choice literature ever done and have concluded that “achievement impact estimates appear to be almost entirely uncorrelate with attainment impacts.” In other words, “Improving test scores appears to be neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for improving the later-life outcomes that truly matter.”

Their findings, presented in “Do Impacts on Test Scores Even Matter?” raise some serious cautions about current practice. Among them: “Focusing on test score gains may lead regulators to favor schools whose benefits could easily fade over time and punish schools that are producing long-lasting gains.

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