A Win-Win Solution: Empirical Evidence on School Choice (2016)


  • May 18 2016

A Win-Win Solution IV

By Greg Forster

A vast body of research shows educational choice programs improve academic outcomes for students and schools, saves taxpayers money, reduces segregation in schools and improves students’ civic values. The fourth edition of A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on School Choice brings together 100 empirical studies on each of these essential questions in one comprehensive report.

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In this report, you will learn:

  • 1

    School choice improves academic outcomes for participants and public schools.

    Understanding the academic outcomes of choice participants and nearby public school students is of paramount importance, and the evidence is overwhelmingly positive. Fourteen of 18 random assignment studies show choice participants’ proficiency scores improved as a result of using a private school voucher or scholarship. Two of those 18 studies show a no visible effect on student test scores. This report also discusses the negative results found in two new studies of the same Louisiana voucher program, including potential reasons for their anomalous findings. Also, 31 of 33 studies find the competitive effects driven by school choice programs led to improvement in public schools’ academic performance. In fact, more expansive school choice programs can be expected to lead to more positive changes for students and schools.
  • 2

    School choice programs move students from more racially segregated schools to more integrated schools.

    Even as residential neighborhoods have become more racially integrated, schools have become more racially segregated. But the research shows school choice has the power to reverse this troubling trend. Eight of 10 empirical studies find educational choice programs move students from more segregated public schools to less segregated private schools. The other two studies find no visible effect. No studies have ever shown private school choice programs exacerbate segregation in schools. In fact, two recent studies of the Louisiana Scholarship Program find school choice programs help desegregate participating private schools and affected public schools.
  • 3

    School choice programs save taxpayers and school districts millions of dollars.

    Opponents often argue that choice programs are expensive and drain resources from public schools. However, 25 of the 28 studies on the fiscal effects of school choice show such programs save taxpayers money—sometimes thousands of dollars per participating student. Three studies show the programs examined are revenue neutral, and none find school choice programs cost taxpayers additional money. Though savings vary from program to program, the research demonstrates that educational choice has the power to save millions, even billions, of dollars for taxpayers and school districts.
  • 4

    School choice programs improve tolerance and civic participation among students.

    School choice can enhance knowledge and practice of civic values that make democratic society possible. Eight of 11 empirical studies show choice programs have a positive effect on students’ civic values and participation, and three studies show no impact. Civic values are measured in a variety of ways, from tolerance for the rights of others to voting. Studies also show students participating in educational choice programs are likely to volunteer more and give more to charity than their public school counterparts.

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