May 28, 2024

Students who utilize choice are seeing positive educational outcomes at a higher rate than peers

PHILADELPHIA – In a report released today, Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia (CSFP), an education non-profit providing under-resourced Philadelphia families with financial access to K-8th grade tuition-based schools, details stark evidence that city students who utilize private school choice outperform their public school peers in both math and reading on standardized tests.

These results are significant in light of the fact that CSFP family median household income is lower than Philadelphia’s, and 70% of CSFP scholarship recipients live in Philadelphia’s lowest achieving public school neighborhoods. CSFP has 150+ partner schools; their median annual tuition is $4,950. These schools meet the diverse needs of CSFP families, offering varying environments including faith based, Montessori, and independent to create new educational opportunities for CSFP students and their families.

The report shows that CSFP students are more likely to be at or above proficiency in both math and reading the longer they are enrolled at a CSFP partner school and are more likely to score at or above proficient on their standardized exams compared to peers attending public school. The report also found CSFP partner schools reach higher proficiency rates for math and reading than public school options in the city, even when some bordering suburban public school districts are included in the analysis.

The study analyzed standardized testing data to compare math and reading proficiency rates of CSFP scholarship recipients with that of their private school peers and public school counterparts in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP). This is the first time the organization has assessed school-level findings in this way.

Key datapoints highlighted in the report include:

  • Student Level Findings
    • 54% of CSFP 7th grade students score at or above proficiency in math, compared to 19% of SDP students
    • 47% of CSFP 4th grade students score at or above proficiency in math, compared to 23% of SDP students
    • 61% of CSFP 7th grade students score at or above proficiency in reading, compared to 38% of SDP students
    • 59% of CSFP 4th grade students score at or above proficiency in reading, compared to 30% of SDP students
  • School Level Findings
    • 54% of CSFP partner schools score at or above proficiency in 7th grade math, compared to 19% at SDP schools
    • 58% of CSFP partner schools score at or above proficiency in 7th grade reading, compared to 38% at SDP schools

“This is the first time we’ve answered the question: Do CSFP students and CSFP partner schools outperform both district counterparts and public schools within the same neighborhood? The answer, based on this report, is a resounding yes,” said Keisha Jordan, President and CEO, Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia. “We recognize standardized test scores are just one indicator of academic success, but this report provides an important perspective on how tuition-based schools are serving students from under-resourced households. It shows that CSFP scholarships change lives and private school choice provides an opportunity to set students on a pathway to long-term success.”

The report also highlights the importance of a stable and continuous academic environment. Common research shows students who change schools more frequently demonstrate lower achievement levels and are less likely to graduate high school. Findings from CSFP’s research demonstrate that the longer a CSFP student is in their partner school, the more likely they are to perform at or above proficiency in both math and reading on standardized exams. With program updates made during the 2023-2024 scholarship lottery cycle as part of the Breaking Barriers Campaign, all CSFP students now receive scholarships through 8th grade, whereas the previous limit was four years. As a result, CSFP households can continue the relationship they have with their school without disruption. These findings provide evidence that funding scholarships through 8th grade is the best approach to CSFP student success.

With the data from this report, CSFP has strong evidence showing the positive impact of school choice, financial support, EITC and OSTC funding, and CSFP’s scholarship program on under-resourced students in Philadelphia. CSFP’s scholarships are made possible in part by EITC and OSTC funding. This report underscores EITC and OSTC as supporting educational success in Philadelphia. Students who benefit from these programs are seeing long-term outcomes and being provided opportunities for success.

For more information on Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia and additional information on the report, please visit

About Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia 
Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia (CSFP) changes lives by providing scholarship funding for Philadelphia families to choose a tuition-based school that meets their student’s educational needs. It is the largest and most diverse provider of K-8th scholarship support in Pennsylvania, focusing on the highest need students in the lowest-achieving schools in the city. CSFP currently serves nearly 6,200 scholars enrolled at more than 150 area K-8th grade tuition-based schools. CSFP scholarships are all need-based and awarded by random lottery. To learn more about CSFP’s Breaking Barriers Campaign goals and priorities, visit