Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Tale of One City, Two Events

It might be August recess for Capitol Hill, but the rest of Washington, D.C. is abuzz with policy analysis.  And today’s topic is school choice.

The Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution and the Harvard Kennedy School on Program and Education Policy and Governance today released a study that shows that African American participants in a private school choice program were 24 percent more likely to enroll in college as a result of receiving a voucher.

This groundbreaking study, which used a randomized experiment to measure the impact of vouchers on college enrollment—joins a plethora of gold-standard research that has already demonstrated high graduation and parental satisfaction rates among private school choice participants.

The Effects of School Vouchers on College Enrollment: Experimental Evidence from New York City,” which tracked participating students in New York City over a nearly 15-year period, was conducted by Matthew M. Chingos of Brookings and Paul Peterson, a longtime leading researcher on school choice programs and speaker at the AFC National Policy Summit held earlier this year.

Also among the findings:

  • African American enrollment rates in selective colleges more than doubled among voucher students
  • The rate of enrollment in full-time colleges increased by 31 percent
The data is consistent with results of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which found that voucher students graduate at a rate of 91 percent—more than 30 percentage points higher than students who did not participate in the program.  And according to the program’s administrator, in the 2009 and 2010 school years, 94 percent of 12th graders participating in the program graduated from high school—and 89 percent of OSP graduates went on to enroll in a two- or four-year college or university.

D.C. and New York aren’t the only places where vouchers have been shown to be a success.  Similar students demonstrating increased achievement and parental satisfaction rates have been conducted in Milwaukee, Florida, and Louisiana.

And while some voucher advocates were at the Brookings Institution, still others were across town at the National Press Club, which held an event on what works and what doesn’t in school choice.

The conclusion?  School choice works. 

More children than ever before are participating in school choice programs.  Across the country, nearly 30 percent of students are choosing a different school than the one they are assigned to using the many forms of school choice. 

In a new book, researchers from the University of Colorado and Western Michigan looked at all of the options parents have across the nation.  From charter schools, which serve nearly two million children, to private school choice, parents are overwhelmingly using the educational options available.  Since the 1990s, the number of students using public school choice, private school choice, charter schools, and virtual schools has grown across the board.
These new findings, that once again demonstrate the success of private school choice, will leave legislators around the country with a lot to do when they come back into session.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

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