Milwaukee students who received vouchers to attend private schools score about the same as similar students attending Milwaukee’s public schools, according to a study by the School Choice Demonstration Project. School choice had no effect on racial segregation.
The ongoing study looked at two years of data.
Less taxpayer money is spent on students in the choice program, pointed out Patrick Wolf, the University of Arkansas education professor who heads the study. “You’re getting similar rates of achievement growth at lower cost.”
The city’s low-income students — voucher and public — are outperforming low-income students in other urban school districts, the study found.
Vouchers are improving education in Milwaukee by improving public schools as well as helping voucher recipients find private alternatives that meet their needs, argues Greg Forster. He cites research here (pdf) and here.
The study shows that school choice isn’t enough, responds Rick Hess.
. . . choice-based reform should be embraced as an opportunity for educators to create more focused and effective schools and for reformers to solve problems in smarter ways. Whether any of that pays off is much more a question of quality control, support, talent, investment, infrastructure, and the rest than it is of whether or not a choice program is in place.
If reformers can’t create and expand quality schools, parents may choose schools that are smaller and safer but academically weak.