Breaking Down “The Private School Landscape” Report - EdChoice
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  • Nov 17 2016

Breaking Down “The Private School Landscape” Report

 

In 2012, researchers Greg Forster and Lynn Woodworth studied the relationship between choice program adoption and private school student populations in seven states and the District of Columbia and found school choice had little to no effect on the private school sector.

After four more years of school choice program growth, our new report The Private School Landscape provides a different and deeper analysis on new and updated data on the change in private school capacity and composition.

Flip through this slide show or listen to our podcast to learn the report’s highlights in minutes.

What You’ll Learn

Advocates say school choice will change the landscape of education through competition. Properly implemented, school choice programs should diversify private school student populations and the education marketplace as a whole.

Have they?

After more than 20 years, what can researchers determine about the relationship between choice program adoption and private school student populations? And what might it tell us about choice policies and competition?

In 2012, researchers Greg Forster and Lynn Woodworth studied just that in seven states and the District of Columbia and found school choice had little to no effect on the private school sector.

After four more years of school choice program growth, our new report The Private School Landscape provides a different and deeper analysis on new and updated data on the change in private school capacity and composition.

 

Research Question 1: Is there a significant change in private school enrollment trends after the introduction of private school choice programs?

 

private school enrollment changes over time

 

private school enrollment changes over time

 

 

Private school enrollment trends in states with school choice programs either did not differ significantly or differed only trivially from trends in states without choice programs.

 

Research Question 2: Is there a significant difference in the percentage of racial/ethnic minority students in private schools after the introduction of private school choice programs?

 

racial/ethnic minorities in private schools

 

private school student populations demographics

 

Private schools in school choice states did not grow “whiter” and remained consistent with the populations surrounding their schools.

 

Research Question 3: Is there a significant difference in the number of grades private schools offer (i.e., capacity after the introduction of private school choice programs?

 

private school supply changes over time

 

private school student demographic changes over time

 

Private school capacity under conditions of school choice look substantively the same as conditions without choice across all analyses.

Simply put, we haven’t seen the growth we were hoping for. Why?

The vision of universal school choice that Milton Friedman first wrote about in 1955 hasn’t become a reality. Instead, the majority of America’s school choice programs are restrictive in many ways. Therefore, these findings seem to support a shift toward policy features that

  1. Make as many students eligible as possible to drive demand and induce competition.
  2. Find a balance between light regulatory restrictions/burdens and accountability to avoid disincentivizing high-quality providers who value autonomy.
  3. Establish reliable program funding streams to assure private school leaders choice programs are more than a flash in the pan.
  4. Secure strong per-pupil funding, whether in the form of vouchers, tax-credit scholarships or education savings accounts, to incentivize greater private school involvement and put a greater number of schools within reach of more children.

 

For more detailed analysis, methods and more, see the full report at edchoice.org/PrivateSchoolLandscape.

Have questions about this report? Contact Dr. Dick Carpenter at dcarpent@uccs.edu and/or Drew Catt at dcatt@edchoice.org.

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