Expanding school choice continues to be near the top of the policy agenda for many conservatives concerned about education. In recent years, a number of states – including North Carolina — have passed voucher programs with the hope of expanding educational opportunities for students. A growing body of research that identifies the many immediate benefits of school choice has helped to propel the legislation.
Now a new study by Matthew Chingos of the Brookings Institute and Paul Peterson of Harvard University has found that voucher programs have significant long-term benefits. Chingos and Peterson reported on their findings on the Education Next Blog.
Effects for all students are positive and small but the estimates are not precise enough to draw any conclusions. For the small number of non-minority students (those who are not African American or Hispanic), statistically insignificant, negative impacts are estimated.
For disadvantaged minority (African American and Hispanic) students, sizeable, statistically significant, positive impacts are observed. Forty-six percent of the control group enrolled in either a two-year or a four-year college for at least one term. That percentage increased to 51 percent among those who made use of a voucher, an increment of 10 percent.
Bachelor’s degree attainment was 9 percent for the minority members of the control group; it increased to 12 percentage points among those who used a voucher, an increment of 35 percent.
These results are based upon the assumption that impacts observed among all those offered a voucher are concentrated on the 79 percent of voucher winners who made at least some use of the voucher.
We also found that vouchers had a significant impact on the likelihood that students born in the United States would attend college and receive a bachelor’s degree. They were 18 percent more likely to enroll in college and 61 percent more likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree if they made use of a voucher. No statistically significant impacts were observed for immigrants, however.