Private school choice programs benefit students

Our Midwest neighbor pioneered the first modern private school choice program in Milwaukee in 1990. Since then, numerous states have implemented their own school voucher programs, and numerous studies have been published that assess the effectiveness of these programs.

To synthesize the research on private school choice programs, EdChoice recently released a report called,“The 123s of School Choice” that analyzes outcomes and benefits students, families, and communities can gain from participating in such programs.

Better test scores

EdChoice’s report examined 16 random-assignment studies of three voucher programs and five privately funded scholarship programs in five states (Wisconsin, Louisiana, Ohio, New York, North Carolina) and D.C. Eleven studies found participation had positive outcomes on participants’ test scores. Three studies found no visible effect, and three found negative effects.

[Researchers] found that students who simply won the voucher lottery (even if they didn’t use the voucher) saw small positive but statistically insignificant gains on test scores. On the other hand, students who won the voucher lottery and used the voucher saw larger positive gains on test scores that equate roughly to 50 more days of learning in math and 30 more days of learning in reading and English. [Emphasis added]

Test scores in reading and math were also more likely to increase the longer a student used a voucher.

More likely to graduate

EdChoice’s report examined six studies that looked at the long-run effects of choice programs on educational attainment (graduation rates, college enrollment, college persistence). The studies focused on three voucher programs, one tax-credit scholarship program, and one privately funded scholarship program across four states (Wisconsin, Louisiana, Florida, New York) and D.C. Four studies found positive outcomes on participants’ educational attainment; two studies found no visible effect. None of the studies found negative effects.

Higher parent satisfaction

Educational choice programs empower parents to choose the learning environment that best fits their child’s needs. Parents’ satisfaction with their school of choice is higher when compared to their previous school.

After examining 26 studies on two Education Savings Account programs, seven voucher programs, three tax-credit scholarship programs, and seven privately funded scholarship programs across 12 states and D.C., all studies found private school choice programs had positive effects on parent satisfaction.

Public school students better off

The EdChoice report analyzed 26 studies to assess whether private school choice programs “leave students who remain in public schools worse off.” The studies looked at nine voucher programs, one tax-credit scholarship program and one privately funded scholarship program across eight states and D.C. Twenty-four studies found positive effects of private school choice programs on public school test scores; one study found no effect, and one study found negative effects.