Posted at the Insider Online
Many studies have found that school choice programs have modest beneficial effects on student performance; but perhaps the most important thing to note about this area of research is that no studies have found that school choice programs have a negative effect. A new review of the literature by Greg Forster finds:
Ten empirical studies have used random assignment, the gold standard of social science, to examine how vouchers affect participants. Nine studies find that vouchers improve student outcomes, six that all students benefit and three that some benefit and some are not affected. One study finds no visible impact. None of these studies finds a negative impact.
The research also shows that competition can make public schools better, too. When parents have the option of using a school voucher to send their child to a non-public school, the public schools work harder to keep their students. Forster summarizes:
Nineteen empirical studies have examined how vouchers affect outcomes in public schools. Of these studies, 18 find that vouchers improved public schools and one finds no visible impact. No empirical studies find that vouchers harm public schools.
Forster notes that the one study that found no visible impact of voucher competition on public schools was conducted in Washington, D.C., whose voucher program was explicitly designed to shield public schools from competition. In other words, 18 of the 18 studies that actually tested the hypothesis found that voucher competition makes public schools better, too.
See “A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on School Vouchers” published by the Foundation for Educational Choice, March 2011. link: http://www.edchoice.org/CMSModules/EdChoice/FileLibrary/656/A-Win-Win-Solution---The-Empirical-Evidence-on-School-Vouchers.pdf