Vouchers have “no clear positive effect” on student achievement and mixed outcomes overall, according to a review of 27 studies by the Center on Education Policy. From Ed Week‘s Inside Schools Research:
Low-income students receiving vouchers made similar achievement gains to comparable public school students in district schools in several studies, the report found.
The report also noted that some research found that voucher students graduate at a higher rate than their public school peers, and that overall achievement at public schools was higher in those schools most affected by voucher competition. However, the report said it is difficult to tease out causation in those results, because schools most affected by vouchers often are targeted for other intensive school reform efforts.
The CEP review did not include privately funded vouchers or tax credits or voucher programs for students with disabilities or students in foster care.
“CEP’s study narrowly cherry-picks school choice studies in a handful of states and inaccurately characterizes the results of these studies,” said Andrew Campanella, a spokesman for the American Federation for Children, a voucher advocacy program based in Washington.
A rival analysis of voucher research by the Foundation for Educational Choice found large benefits for some programs, but modest gains for most. No voucher studies have found a negative effect, said Greg Forster, a senior fellow at the foundation. “When the small, restricted programs produce moderately positive results, that indicates we should be trying bigger things,” Forster said.