Competition and choice fail to produce better student results

23 Jan 2013

Another new study has refuted the case that more competition and choice between schools leads to higher student results. The paper reviewed research evidence in several countries and concluded that it is “mixed and modest”. It also found that choice and competition leads to greater social stratification between schools.

These results suggest that the policies followed by the Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments over the last 15 years have taken Australian education in the wrong direction by promoting more choice and competition. These policies have failed to improve school results in Australia over this period but have increased social stratification. The results add to the case for education policies to focus directly on improving the results of low income and other disadvantaged students instead of relying on market mechanisms.

The paper reviewed research studies on the relative performance of public and private schools and whether more competition between schools improves student results in public schools. The authors are academics from Columbia University in New York and the US National Bureau of Economic Research. The paper was published by the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany, in December, and concludes that there is little evidence of superior performance by private schools.

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