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Regulations Are Keeping the Best Private Schools out of School Voucher Programs

September 22, 2018 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis

Corey A. DeAngelis

As I’ve pointed out many

times

before
, private school choice leads to better results for
students and the societies in which they reside. The preponderance
of the most rigorous scientific evidence suggests that school
choice
reduces crime
and improves student
achievement
,
graduation rates
, racial
integration
,
student safety
, and civic
outcomes
. But while the existing evidence is encouraging, it
can be thought of as a lower-bound of the true effect of private
schooling in general. Here’s why.

Higher-quality private
schools are less likely to participate in two of the most highly
regulated voucher programs in the U.S., the Milwaukee Parental
Choice Program and the Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship
Program.

As found in my just-released study — coauthored with
George Mason University economics graduate student Blake Hoarty
— higher-quality private schools are less likely to
participate in two of the most highly regulated voucher programs in
the U.S., the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and the Ohio
Educational Choice Scholarship Program.

And this isn’t the only study to find that the best private
schools decide not to participate in voucher programs. As shown in
the table below, using tuition, enrollment, customer reviews, and
effects on student test scores as measures of quality, all four of
the studies examining this question suggest that higher quality
schools are less likely to accept voucher funding in Louisiana,
Milwaukee, Ohio, Washington, D.C., Indiana, Louisiana, and even in
Chile.

Because school choice evaluations can only tell us the effects
of gaining access to the participating schools, which tend to be
lower-quality, the existing evidence is likely a lower-bound of the
true effects of private schooling in general.

Table: Quality of Schools Participating in Voucher
Programs (Relative to Non-Participating Schools)

Study Location Quality Metrics Result
Abdulkadiroglu, Pathak & Walters
(2018)
Louisiana Tuition & enrollment growth

Negative


DeAngelis & Hoarty (2018)
Milwaukee & Ohio Tuition, enrollment, & customer reviews

Negative

Sánchez (2018) Chile Tuition, average math test scores, & student test score
value-added

Negative

Sude, DeAngelis, & Wolf
(2018)
Washington, D.C., Indiana, & Louisiana Tuition, enrollment, & customer reviews

Negative

[Note: Negative indicates that the study finds that higher
quality private schools are less likely to participate in voucher
programs.]

But why are higher-quality schools less likely to participate in
voucher programs?

Private school leaders must decide whether to participate in
voucher programs each year based on expected costs and benefits of
participation. The private school’s main benefit of voucher program
participation is, of course, additional voucher revenue. The
private school’s primary cost associated with program participation
is additional bureaucratic red tape. Private schools that accept
voucher funding must …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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