Studies Show Vouchers Help Kids, Schools; What About Research of Douglas County?

For those in the know, this report is hardly a jaw-dropping, breathtaking surprise. But it’s good to see the updated information compiled in one place. Thanks to Greg Forster and the Foundation for Educational Choice, we now have the newly-released report A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on School Vouchers, which brings together the 27 studies “using the best available scientific methods” to show:

that vouchers improve outcomes for both participants and public schools.

Let’s break that down a little bit. Of 10 empirical studies measuring the effects U.S. voucher programs (e.g., Milwaukee, Cleveland, D.C., Florida) have on the learning of student participants:

  • 60 percent found all groups of students benefit
  • 30 percent found some groups of students benefit
  • 10 percent found no measurable impact either way
  • 0 (ZERO) percent found negative impacts on students

Of 19 empirical studies measuring the competitive effects from U.S. voucher programs:

  • 95 percent found public schools improved as a result of competition
  • 5 percent (one study on D.C., the only program “designed to shield public schools from the impact of competition”) found “no visible impact” on public schools

These results are almost as unanimous as the finding that school voucher programs increase parental satisfaction! What’s not to like?

Writing on Jay Greene’s blog, author Greg Forster expounds more on the results — including some visuals that lay out the findings as presented above. My suggestion for the next place to study? Douglas County, here in our own Front Range backyard, which launched a local pilot voucher program just last week!

Specifically, are there aspects of Douglas County’s program that would tend to produce better or less noticeable results than these other programs? For the academic researchers out there, it sure looks like an interesting course to pursue (if the money follows). Given the body of work we’ve seen, one would anticipate a random-assignment study of the pilot voucher program to yield some academically favorable results.