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Impact of School Choice on Public School Students

There’s a common misconception that if students leave a public school using voucher funds, those who choose to stay will have less money and fall behind academically.

This is a limited way of thinking about public schools. Just because some children choose to leave for a different environment doesn’t mean the students who don’t are “left behind” or “trapped.” Many of our public schools are a great fit for a lot of kids.

Our other FAQ addresses the money question, but now, let’s look at what the data say about the academic performance of public school students in districts where private school choice is available.

There’s little research that supports the allegation that school choice harms students who stay in their public schools. In fact, those students tend to experience small gains on test scores. Of the 28 studies that examine the competitive effects of school choice programs on public schools, 25 found positive effects, one saw no visible effect and two found some negative effects for some kids.

School choice programs may influence how public schools choose to operate, but the body of evidence proves that by and large, they help, not hurt, our most important stakeholders in education: the kids.

To dive deeper into the complexities of school choice research, flip through this slide show.


For a fully cited list of studies, visit our school choice research bibliography page.