(The Center Square) — Georgia received an overall B score and ranked 11th nationwide for its education freedom.
The American Legislative Exchange Council 2023 Index of State Education Freedom “focuses exclusively on the policies each state has in place to ensure their students can access the best educational environment for them.”
The report graded the Peach State on its charter schools (A), financing programs (D), homeschooling (B), open enrollment (B) and virtual schooling (D).
“Georgia is so close to becoming a national leader on school choice,” Nathaniel Cunneen, a communications strategist at the American Federation for Children, told The Center Square via email. “As these rankings show, Georgia offers laudable charter schools and open enrollment opportunities to students, but it won’t be true education freedom until the Georgia legislature expands school choice to every student.
“They can do this by passing an Education Savings Account program that is available to every kid,” Cunneen added. “Georgians shouldn’t be content with good grades in only a few categories; they should focus on empowering families to choose from all education options.”
During this year’s session, Georgia lawmakers Senate Bill 233, the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act, a measure that called for taxpayers to cover the cost of scholarships up to $6,500 per student per school year. The proposal would have allowed the families to use the money to defray “qualified” education costs, such as private school tuition.
A spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Education declined to comment on the ALEC report.
However, this week, state education officials said Georgia’s four-year graduation rate increased to 84.4% from 84.1% in 2022. Officials said it sets a new high-water mark since the state started using the “adjusted cohort calculation,” which federal law first required to be calculated in 2011.
“It’s important to remember that the positive news we’ve received lately – from this historic-high graduation rate to Georgia students beating the national average on the SAT – is more than just numbers,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in an announcement. “Every data point represents an actual student and new opportunities that have opened up for their future.”
Georgia’s class of 2023 also recorded an average composite score of 21.3 on the ACT, down slightly from last year’s 21.6 average but topping the national average of 19.5. It marked the seventh year in a row Georgia students exceeded the national average, officials said.
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor