Monday, June 14, 2010

If Only....

If only they had listened to me. Means-tested school vouchers had the #1 place on my education platform. And they WORK, and they don't cost much.

Competitive Effects of Means-Tested School Vouchers

David Figlio & Cassandra Hart
NBER Working Paper, June 2010

Abstract: We study the effects of private school competition on public school students’ test scores in the wake of Florida’s Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship program, now known as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which offered scholarships to eligible low-income students to attend private schools. Specifically, we examine whether students in schools that were exposed to a more competitive private school landscape saw greater improvements in their test scores after the introduction of the scholarship program, than did students in schools that faced less competition. The degree of competition is characterized by several geocoded variables that capture students’ ease of access to private schools, and the variety of nearby private school options open to students. We find that greater degrees of competition are associated with greater improvements in students’ test scores following the introduction of the program; these findings are robust to the different variables we use to define competition. These findings are not an artifact of pre-policy trends; the degree of competition from nearby private schools matters only after the announcement of the new program, which makes nearby private competitors more affordable for eligible students. We also test for several moderating factors, and find that schools that we would expect to be most sensitive to competitive pressure see larger improvements in their test scores as a result of increased competition.

(Nod to Kevin L)


John Thacker said...

One of the difficulties with a naive analysis of vouchers is that the standard economic prediction also predicts that vouchers would make the nearby public schools better through competition. Yet if this occurs, it can be used to discredit vouchers on the basis that the private schools aren't better than the public schools.

pino said...

Yet if this occurs, it can be used to discredit vouchers on the basis that the private schools aren't better than the public schools.

I'm not sure the voucher argument is that private schools are better than public schools. I think that voucher argument is that schools subject to competition are better than schools NOT subject to competition.

For example, a private school running in a monopoly situation with students compelled to legally attend said private monopoly school until age whatever would do as poorly as the current government monopoly/compulsion model.