School Vouchers and Student Achievement: Recent Evidence, Remaining Questions

Cecilia Rouse and Lisa Barrow
August 2008

This paper reviews the best research about the impact of publicly- and privately-financed school voucher programs on student achievement. Neither voucher advocates nor critics will discover here much ammunition for their causes. When the research finds gains for voucher students, they are tiny and most are not statistically significant. And nearly all the studies are short-term, making it tough to measure meaningful change. They do, however, consistently find that voucher parents are more satisfied with their child's schooling. The authors point out that there is scant research on vouchers' impact on outcomes other than achievement, such as high school graduation rates, college enrollment, and future earnings. So while current studies don't, can't, or can't yet find robust academic gains for voucher students, there may be other, very good, so-far-unstudied reasons to implement school voucher programs. Find the report here.

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