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Backpack Bill Research

Research Demonstrating Benefits of School Choice

The overwhelming weight of research demonstrates a positive effect from school choice programs. This slide provides a summary of much of the research while the links below provide access to some of the actual studies.

Summaries & Links to Studies

Higher levels of educational freedom through school choice programs are significantly associated with higher achievement levels and higher achievement gains in all statistical models.  This positive association is two to three times larger than the average effect that comes from school intervention on achievement test scores.

Education Freedom and Student Achievement (March 2021)

School choice programs result in higher parent satisfaction rates. Since parents are best equipped to know and understanding their child’s individual needs, empowering them to make school decisions for their child results in a better educational and environment fit for those needs. As a result, satisfaction rates improve with school choice.

Why Parents Choose (June 2016)

Students accessing school choice demonstrate a better grasp of civic virtues – those areas typical thought of as being the domain of public schools. But choice students demonstrate higher levels of political tolerance, civic skills, future political participation, and volunteering when compared to public schools students. These results appear to be caused, at least in part, by choosing to attend faith-based schools.

Can Markets Make Citizens? (June 2014)

Critics often argue that school choice programs will gut public schools and harm those students who remain in those schools. In fact, the data shows the opposite to be true. Students who choose to remain in their public schools demonstrate increased academic gains when school choice is introduced to their market. Whether it is because the student who attend that school are now all committed to that school being the best fit for them, or because market forces of competition have brought innovation and improvement, the fact remains that public school students benefit from the presence of school choice. This is particularly true for lower-income students, but is generally true for all students.

Effects of Scaling Up Private School Choice Programs on Public School Students (February 2020)

A fuller bibliography of school choice research may be found here:

School Choice Bibliography

Finally, recent national polling on attitudes toward programs like Backpack Bill in which state funding follows students to the school of their choice show dramatic and overwhelming support from parents. A significant majority of both parties and of the four largest ethnic/racial populations now support policies like Backpack Bill.

AFC Poll (June 2021)

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about the bill

The Backpack Bill empowers families to choose the educational option that best meets their needs. The Backpack Bill ties state resources to the student so that South Dakota funds students and teachers, instead of buildings and bureaucrats.


The Backpack Bill is an innovative funding mechanism for students that will provide a state-funded Educational Savings Account (ESA) to every South Dakota K-12 student who opts into the program. The student may use these ESA funds for authorized educational expenses, including tuition at a private school of their choice or homeschooling expenses.

Click below to find out more about the Backpack Bill, what it is, why it's needed, how much money follows the child, if there is an income threshold, how it works for homeschooling, private or public school, and what happens to local property tax.


Every child is unique, and families should be empowered to choose the best educational setting to meet their child’s needs. At the same time, the Backpack Bill ensures that South Dakota maintains strong funding for community and public schools.

Click below for more details on dispelling backpack bill myths with facts and examples of school choice success.

research and facts

The overwhelming weight of research demonstrates a positive effect from school choice programs. Click below for a summary of much of the research and links to some of the actual studies.

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