Alexandria, Va. - October 3 - With voters in Utah just weeks away from deciding whether the state should offer universal private school vouchers, the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute has released an important new study countering claims by voucher advocates that the alleged “competition” created by vouchers directly leads to improved public school student achievement. Researchers studying Milwaukee schools, home to the country’s longest-running voucher program, found no significant, sustained improvements by public schools, and no discernible link to any so-called voucher effect.
“This is another round of research that undercuts a common argument made by voucher supporters,” said Anne L. Bryant, executive director of the National School Boards Association. “Diverting millions of dollars from public schools to fund private school tuition has never been a sound strategy for improving our public schools.”
Among the specific findings, the researchers point to a brief boost in student achievement for Milwaukee public schools, but note that it falls off as the voucher program’s enrollment expanded and public school enrollment declined. In fact, as voucher enrollment doubled to 15 percent of public school enrollment, the lowest income schools “lost ground” to comparison schools.
The researchers also found no positive effects on students’ math or language arts scores based on the number of private schools in close proximity to the public school, on the number of voucher seats nearby, or on the number of voucher applications from the public school’s enrollment.
While this study contradicts the competition claim by voucher advocates, other research has done the same to claims of higher achievement for voucher recipients, Bryant noted. Earlier this year, a U.S. Department of Education study on the Washington, D.C. voucher program found no significant academic differences between voucher students and public school students, mirroring previous findings in Milwaukee and Cleveland.
For more information on this issue, visit NSBA’s Voucher Strategy Center .
Founded in 1940, the National School Boards Association is a not-for profit federation of state associations of school boards across the United States. Its mission is to foster excellence and equity in public elementary and secondary education in the United States through local school board leadership.
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