Harvard/PEPG School Choice Study Shows Improved Outcomes

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice has lauded a new independent study which shows that school choice programs have improved academic outcomes for students by increasing the chances that they will continue their education beyond secondary school:

…students who used privately-funded scholarships in New York City to obtain a K-12 education were more likely to attend college than a control group of their peers.

The report was released today at the Brookings Institution. It was a study conducted by scholars from Harvard University’s Program on Education and Governance (PEPG).

The report is authored by Matthew Chingos and Paul Peterson and uses random assignment methods to examine the effects of vouchers on participants — the 11th ‘gold standard’ study to do so. A gold standard study uses a methodology considered within the social sciences to be the most rigorous. All ten previous evaluations of the school voucher program found that at least some groups of participating students had improved academic outcomes compared to the control group of public school students. Nine of these studies found that the gain due to vouchers was statistically significant.

“Once again what we are seeing is that when the most rigorous, randomized studies are conducted, the evidence is loud and clear,” said Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation. “Students win and have a better shot at not only getting a good K-12 education but now we see a chance that it translates to the possibility of a great college education.”

The Harvard/PEPG study showed that a voucher offer increased the college enrollment rate of African Americans by 7.1%, which is an overall 20% increase. This rises to 8.7%, or 24% overall, if the offered scholarship is actually used to attend private school.

The results were also encouraging for full time college enrollment. Among African Americans, 26% of the control group attended college full-time within three years of high school graduation and the for the voucher group this figure was 32.4%; a 25% increase in full-time college enrollment. Once again the effect was slightly greater if the scholarship was used to attend a private school, in which case the increase was 8% for an overall increase of 31%.

“Pundits may dismiss vouchers, but African American parents know they work and strong scientific data prove they work,” Enlow said.

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice is the legacy foundation of Milton and Rose Friedman, who pioneered the architecture of the school voucher concept. The Foundation is dedicated to advancing their vision of school choice for all children and was established in 1996. It is dedicated to research and education on all the vital issues related to choice in K-12 education.