Advanced Analyses of Randomized School Voucher Experiments

    What are the effects of vouchers on students who switch from public to private schools, and how do we best analyze them?  These questions frame the focus of this study.  Researchers began by conducting randomized field trials of private school voucher programs in three large U.S. cities. However, these trials fail to address the issue of noncompliant behavior and the systematic differences between those offered a voucher who do not use it, or not offered a voucher who nevertheless switch to a private school. Thus, investigators are revisiting the data, estimating a wide range of alternative models that explore student attrition patterns, consider the influence of additional covariates in models of student achievement, and assess the influence of non-response rates on estimated impacts. They are focusing on five programs to learn voucher effects on test scores, parent satisfaction, parent-school communications, and political tolerance.

    Findings show that, after two years, African-American students who use vouchers to switch from public to private schools score substantially better on math and reading tests. By contrast, no significant positive effects on the test scores of other ethnic groups are detected. Findings also reveal that, while parents in all ethnic groups are generally more supportive of private education, African-American parents express particularly high enthusiasm for the private schools their children attend.

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The NCSC is funded by a 5 year, $13.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences. Its lead institution is Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. The center is housed on the campus of Peabody College, one of the nation's top graduate schools of education.