Kentucky’s K-12 experienced an 80% in increase in per pupil funds, after inflation, from 1990 to 2019. However, there have been only modest changes in its nationally-administered test scores, and no increases in the past decade. Moreover, per pupil funding seems to exceed that of all but the most exclusive private school tuition. Just over one-half of public funds goes directly to instruction and most funds to local schools come from Frankfort. Scoring on Kentucky’s own student assessment tests, the K-PREP, are higher than that of the comparable nationally-administered tests. Also, K-PREP shows improvement, while the other tests do not. About 20% of Kentucky students fall into the lowest K-PREP score category. For African American students, it is double that percentage. Kentucky’s K-12 system impedes teachers and other school personnel in devising suitable programs for the varied needs of children, and inhibits parental choice among possible alternatives. A system of robust school choice and competition enables the design of programs by teachers/schools and empowers parental choice among programs to suit their children’s needs.

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Research Paper

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Working Paper Number

Working Paper 36