Author(s): Christopher Hammons
This study finds that the school voucher programs known as “town tuitioning” in Maine and Vermont improve public schools through competitive incentives. Public schools close to tuitioning towns had higher test scores than other public schools – if a town decided to begin tuitioning its students, a public school one mile away could expect to see its test scores increase by over 3 percentile points – on average, that would be a 12 percent gain over existing scores.
Many small towns in Maine do not operate high schools, and some do not have elementary schools.
Students in those towns are eligible for vouchers to attend public schools in other towns or non-religious
private schools, even outside the state. The “sending” towns pay tuition directly to the “receiving”
schools. Although most towns allow parents to choose which schools will receive their students, some
towns send all their students to one school.
Many towns in Vermont, particularly in rural areas, do not operate public high schools and/or
elementary schools. Students in those towns may use public dollars to attend any public or approved
independent (private), non-religious school in or outside of Vermont. The “tuitioning” towns pay
tuition directly to the “receiving” schools. For 2013-14, tuition amounts equal $11,703 for grades K-6
and $13,084 for grades 7-12. Although most tuitioning towns allow parents to choose which schools
will receive their students, some towns send all their students to one school.