Update, 5/14: The U.S. Department of Education gave the Chingos & Peterson study its highest rating for the quality of research design, further validating a positive impact of school choice.
Gold-standard research on the positive impacts of school choice keeps rolling in. The latest work by Matthew Chingos and Paul Peterson measures the results for New York City students who received modest privately-funded vouchers to attend private schools. The study directly compared how many voucher students successfully completed high school and enrolled in college compared to non-voucher peers. For one group in particular, the results are remarkable:
Among African Americans, 26 percent of the control group attended college full-time at some point within three years of expected high-school graduation. The impact of a voucher offer was to increase this rate by 7 percentage points, a 25 percent increment. Among students using the voucher to attend a private school, the estimated impact was 8 percentage points, or roughly 31 percent.
No statistically significant results were found for other groups of students. The authors speculate that the observed benefit may have occurred because “the African American students in the study had fewer educational opportunities in the absence of a voucher.” Most notably, the effect measured is greater than some of the popular, widely-used, and costlier reform efforts of smaller class sizes or improved teacher quality. Continue Reading »