Two New Studies Show Benefits of School Choice

As the debate on school choice continues in Pennsylvania, a couple recent studies highlight the benefits of school voucher programs in the U.S. and internationally.

The first study looks at Sweden’s voucher program finding, as summarized by Cato’s Andrew Coulson, that private schools in Sweden outperform public schools.

Moreover, parents continue to choose private schools with increasing frequency, with a dramatic rise in enrollment since the program was enacted in 1992. In fact, the fast growing schools—and those with the best performance among low-income students—are for profit schools.

A second study, by Matthew Carr in Cato Journal, titled “The Impact of Ohio’s EdChoice on Traditional Public School Performance” finds competition from vouchers improves standardized test scores in failing schools.

The Educational Choice Scholarship program (EdChoice), which was enacted in June 2005, provided up to $4,250 to students attending poorly rated schools in kindergarten through eighth grade and $5,000 to students attending poorly rated high schools. Poorly rated schools were classified as “public schools that have been in academic emergency for three consecutive years.”

Carr’s study focused on how the threat of vouchers and loss of students affected academic performance in failing schools. Opponents of school vouchers assert that bubble students, those students who are on the border of “proficiency cutoff scores,” would be targeted by district schools wishing to improve their academic record. But the study shows students who were judged most likely to use the vouchers were focused on along with bubble students.

As Pennsylvania lawmakers continue to debate the implementation of school vouchers, they should take keep in mind the evidence, which demonstrates the benefits of school choice for all students, including those who never use a voucher.