Two recent national reports demonstrate both increasing support for school choice programs nationwide, as well as demonstrated student performance improvement among voucher recipients.
A recently-published study found a 24 percent increase in college enrollment among low-income, African American students who used education vouchers when compared to their public school peers. The Effects of School Vouchers on College Enrollment was published jointly by the Brown Center on Education at the Brookings Institute and the Harvard Kennedy School Program on Education Policy and Governance.
The study, published by Paul Peterson and Matthew Chingos, focused on the New York City School Choice Foundation Scholarship, which provided a half-tuition voucher to 20,000 lottery-selected students in the New York City Public School District beginning in 1997. The study analyzes data from a randomized field study of students and found that only 36 percent of African American students in public schools went on to college within three years of anticipated graduation, compared to 45 percent of voucher recipients.
This information builds on evidence that shows school voucher usage has a dramatic increase on high school graduation rates. Recently published reports on the effects of voucher programs in Milwaukee and Washington, D.C. showed increases of between 12 and 18 percent in graduation rates among students who have taken advantage of vouchers in comparison to those students who have remained in public schools.
The Effects of School Vouchers on College Enrollment was published at the same time as the results of the most recent Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll, which showed a considerable increase in public support for allowing students the choice to attend a private school utilizing a public voucher. Forty-four percent of respondents said they supported the idea, a 10 percent increase from the previous year.
This is the 44th such poll PDK/Gallup has conducted, and it used the same questions that were used in the previous polls. Used to measure Americans’ attitudes toward the public education system in the U.S., the authors note that it is “unique and significant because its longitudinal data documents important changes in American opinions about education over time.”