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Early Lessons from Colorado's Voucher Experience PDF - Colorado is the first state to enact a school voucher law in the wake of the landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of school vouchers. This report describes Colorado’s voucher program, and then looks at what state leaders on either side of the issue hope it will accomplish – or fear it will lead to. The report also examines the implementation and evaluation processes being put into place for the Colorado program, and concludes with how evaluations might converge with voucher debates in the future. (Alex Medler and Todd Ziebarth, Education Commission of the States, May 2004)...

District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program: Additional Policies and Procedures Would Improve Internal Controls and Program Operations - The D.C. School Choice Incentive Act created the first private K-12 school-choice program supported by federal funds. This report assesses the: (1) accountability mechanisms governing the use of funds; (2) results of the grantee’s efforts to meet the program’s recruiting priorities and eligibility requirements and inform parents of their choices; and (3) extent that the program's evaluation reflects statutory requirements and the implementation of the program supported the detection of useful and generalizable findings. (U.S. Government Accountability Office, November 2007)...

School Choice and State Constitutions: A Guide to Designing School Choice Programs - This report provides a good listing of Blaine Amendments and case law related to challenges of choice programs. Advocacy position reflected in this publication but provides solid information. (American Legislative Exchange Council, April 2007)...

Fixing the Milwaukee Public Schools: The Limits of Parent-Driven Reform - The Milwaukee Public Schools district continues to suffer from poor student performance. Student test scores and dropout rates are at deplorable levels, both in absolute terms and in comparison with the rest of Wisconsin. In an attempt to improve these outcomes, the district itself has embraced two reforms in particular: public school choice and parental involvement. This report examines the limits of parent-driven reform. (David Dodenhoff, Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, 2007)...

Education Tax Credits in a Post-Zelman Era: Legal, Political, and Policy Alternatives to Vouchers? - This article considers the potential for education voucher advocates to turn to tuition tax credit policies as a more legally defensible and politically feasible approach to privatization. First, the authors detail the origin of tax credits and the types of existing tax credit plans in a post-Zelman era. Second, they review the claims of school choice proponents regarding the possible benefits of tax credit programs. Third, they analyze legal, political and policy advantages that may favor the authorization and implementation of tax credit programs over education vouchers. They review evidence from recent research on tax credit programs and analyze new evidence collected for this article on the Minnesota Tax Credits and Deduction Program. (Luis A. Huerta and Chad d’Entremont, National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, December 2006) ...

Trends in the Use of School Choice: 1993 to 2003 - This report examines trends that focus on the use of and users of public schools (assigned and chosen), private schools and homeschoolers between 1993 and 2003. The report also presents data on parental perceptions of public school choice availability and associations between the public and private school types children were enrolled in and parental satisfaction with and involvement in the schools. (Peter Tice, Christopher Chapman, Daniel Princiotta, and Stacey Bielick, National Center for Education Statistics, November 2006) ...

The Evidence on Education Vouchers: An Application to the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program - This paper examines the academic achievement effects of the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program, within the context of existing research on education vouchers. The report finds no substantial gains for voucher users relative to other comparison groups. The report also discusses areas where the research base leaves inquiry open: (1) equity of education vouchers, (2) whether achievement gains are the best source of evidence that vouchers work, (3) the financial implications in relation to the windfalls that some private schools will receive as their existing enrollees now access vouchers, and (4) the full fiscal consequences of voucher programs. (Clive R. Belfield, National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, January 2006)...

Do Vouchers Lead to Sorting even under Random Private School Selection? Evidence from the Milwaukee Voucher Program - This paper analyzes the impact of voucher design on student sorting, investigating whether there are feasible ways of designing vouchers that can reduce or eliminate student sorting. Milwaukee's voucher program requires private schools to select eligible students randomly and accept vouchers as full payment, prohibiting schools from “topping up,” or charging additional fees for tuition. The author finds that while this prevents sorting by income, it does not prevent sorting by ability. The level of mother’s education is considerably higher among voucher applicants than eligible non-applicants, and voucher applicants are more involved in school activities and possess higher educational expectations for their children, than non-applicant parents. (Rajashri Chakrabarti, National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, February 2005)...

School Choice in Chile: An Analysis of Parental Preferences and Search Behavior - This study provides background on the history of school choice in Chile — a nation which has offered public and private school choice since the 1980s. The report enumerates the various factors that could influence school choice, and examines the school choices made by a random sample of parents of first-graders in Santiago. While surveys of parents identifed “academic quality” as a top attribute to consider when selecting a school, the study found wide variation in test scores in schools that parents selected. Only one in four parents chose the school with the highest test scores among the schools in their choice set. In addition, nearly 90% of parents in the study were found to “only consider schools with similar student demographics in their choice sets,” leading to greater social stratification in schools. (Gregory Elacqua, National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, December 2004)...

Vouchers and Public Policy: When Ideology Trumps Evidence - The authors posit that "the search for evidence on the educational effectiveness of vouchers is a charade that will not settle the debate." They propose an alternative to the search for scientifically based evidence, a framework of four criteria — freedom of choice, productive efficiency, equity and social cohesion — for determining the relative desirability of any educational structure in a democratic society. The researchers likewise consider three “design instruments”, namely finance, regulation and support services, that bear upon the attractiveness and success of voucher programs, as well as the means by which voucher programs could be designed to maximize each of the four criteria enumerated earlier. They then examine specific factors and philosophies, including libertarian vs. social contract views of government, the growing influence of ideology in education and the contentious nature of evidence on vouchers, to address the question of why strong opinions on vouchers predominate. (Henry M. Levin and Clive R. Belfield, National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, June 2004)...

How to Evaluate Educational Voucher Programs - This short paper describes a comprehensive framework to evaluate voucher programs and establishes the practical questions that policymakers must consider as part of their policy analysis. (Clive R. Belfield and Henry M. Levin, National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, 2002)...

Administrative Costs of Education Voucher Programs - This report considers the tasks that public and private agencies must undertake to implement voucher programs, and estimates the administrative burdens and cash flows that voucher programs create. According to the report, costs of voucher programs are highly sensitive to the design of the program, existing local practices on providing services to children in private schools and the condition of local school district records. (Paul T. Hill, Center on Reinventing Public Education, September 2003)...

School Vouchers: Characteristics of Privately Funded Programs - While private schools have offered various forms of financial assistance in the past, privately funded voucher programs are different because recipients are selected solely on the basis of family income level and decide which schools their children should attend. This report from the General Accounting Office addresses the growing role of privately funded voucher programs in U.S. education by focusing on the characteristics of these programs and investigating what is known about the performance of students in them. (General Accounting Office, September 2002)...

School Vouchers – Publicly Funded Programs in Cleveland and Milwaukee - This General Accounting Office (GAO) report pulls together research that has been done on the publicly funded voucher programs operating in Cleveland and Milwaukee. The data does not provide a clear answer as to whether the racial and ethnic composition of schools in Cleveland and Milwaukee has changed as a result of the voucher programs. However, in both cities less money is spent on voucher students than on other public school students. Based on the information that GAO examined there was little or no difference in voucher and public school students’ performance. (GAO, August 2001)...

A Bold Experiment to Fix City Schools - This article explores the various ideological positions on vouchers. In an attempt to address the major arguments against vouchers, it offers a provocative approach to improving public education in the nation’s inner cities – a combination of significant increases in spending on public education and the provision of publicly funded vouchers for urban students. (Matthew Miller, The Atlantic Monthly, July 1999)...

Comparing the Effectiveness of Public and Private Schools: A Review of Evidence and Interpretation MS Word - This paper explores two questions relevant to the debate over the use of public money in private schools: Do private schools produce greater academic achievement or attainment than public schools? Does this evidence provide guidance on the potential impact of small- or large-scale voucher plans? The author reviews a number of recent studies and, based upon this review, argues that we have learned a great deal about whether private schools produce greater academic achievement or attainment than public schools. (Patrick McEwan, National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, June 2000)...


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