Market-Based Measurement for School Achievement

22 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2017

See all articles by Chris Surprenant

Chris Surprenant

University of New Orleans

Phillip Magness

Independent Institute

Date Written: April 25, 2017


Over the last thirty years state governments have paid ever-increasing attention to the results of standardized testing to identify successful schools, rewarding those with better performance by allocating to them a greater share of resources. Although traditional, high-stakes, standardized testing has been shown to be effective at measuring discrete skills or a predetermined list of facts, the overwhelming majority of research into its effectiveness shows not only that these tests fail to measure educational quality but also that their use tends to negatively affect the intellectual development of students in the classroom. This paper argues for an alternative mechanism to evaluating school achievement. We claim that a free-market approach to education, one that includes central features of market systems—profits, market entry, price changes, product differentiation, and competition—not only provides a better mechanism than the use of high-stakes testing by which to allocate limited financial resources and motivate academic achievement, but also serves as a more accurate tool to measure the quality of school programs.

Keywords: School Choice

JEL Classification: I28

Suggested Citation

Surprenant, Chris and Magness, Phillip, Market-Based Measurement for School Achievement (April 25, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Chris Surprenant

University of New Orleans ( email )

2000 Lakeshore Drive
New Orleans, LA 70148
United States

Phillip Magness (Contact Author)

Independent Institute ( email )

100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621
United States

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