The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

Advancing Milton and Rose D. Friedman's Vision of School Choice for All Children

More Than Scores: An Analysis of Why and How Parents Choose Private Schools

Released: 11/13/2013

Author(s): Benjamin Scafidi, Jim Kelly

This report uses the results of a survey administered to Georgia parents of K–12 private school scholarship recipients to address three questions:

 
In choosing the private school education best suited for the overall needs of their children, do parents primarily focus on the results from standardized tests administered to students attending the school or do they rely on a variety of factors, including student safety, class size, classroom discipline, religious education, high school completion and post-secondary success, and a greater sense of community?
 
To enable parents to make informed choices regarding the education of their children, what information should private schools provide to them and to the community at large?
 
If state and local governments empowered parents to educate their children in the public or private schools of their choice, and parents were able to secure relevant information relating to those choices, would a more efficient “spontaneous education order” arise?
 
We address those questions in light of the following:
 
Frustrated by the failure of many local public school districts to educate their students adequately, parents, politicians, and policymakers are considering alternative systems for the delivery of K–12 education in America.
 
American youth, their parents, and educators are facing a wide range of social and cultural challenges that add great complexity and uncertainty to the K–12 education mission.
 
The implementation of K–12 school choice programs (e.g., tax-credit scholarships and vouchers) in many states is producing a large number of parents who, for a variety of reasons, have transferred their children from public to private schools.
 
In 2013, Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program, Inc. (GOAL), a tax-exempt, nonprofit student scholarship organization operating under Georgia’s Education Expense Credit (i.e., tax-credit scholarship) law, asked the parents of scholarship recipients to complete a survey pertaining to the reasons they chose a private school for their children and the information about private schools that they deem important to the school selection process.
 
The results of the surveys completed by 754 GOAL parents indicate they have a variety of reasons for transferring their children from public schools to private schools and that they rely on a wide variety of information in evaluating prospective private schools.

Programs

Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit

Enacted 2008 • Launched 2008

Georgia provides dollar-for-dollar tax credits for donations to Student Scholarship Organizations (SSOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships. Individuals may claim up to $1,000, and married couples filing jointly may claim up to $2,500. An individual who is a member of an LLC, a shareholder of an S-Corporation, or a partner in a partnership may claim up to $10,000 of their tax actually paid as a member, shareholder, or partner. Corporate taxpayers may claim up to 75 percent of their total tax liability. The program is capped at $58 million in tax credits per year.

News

5/6/2014 Orange County Register | Tests don't ensure a child learns
3/12/2014 National Review Online | Choosing to Learn
12/21/2013 Marietta Daily Journal | Common Core not top issue at private schools
11/13/2013 Standardized tests not a top concern for school choice parents

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