Study: School vouchers have positive effect on college enrollment for African-Americans
August 27th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

Study: School vouchers have positive effect on college enrollment for African-Americans

By Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) - A recently released study by the Brookings Institution at Harvard has stirred up the debate over school choice and vouchers.

In some districts and states, parents can get vouchers to pay for their children’s education.  Parents may choose to send their children to religious or private schools using the vouchers as payment for tuition.  Much of the research surrounding the effectiveness of vouchers centers on more immediate outcomes, such as test scores.

The Brookings study was based on data collected on students who were recipients of vouchers from the privately funded New York School Choice Scholarships Foundation program.  In 1997, the foundation offered three-year scholarships of up to $1,400 per year to 1,000 low-income families whose children were either entering first grade or were already in public schools in second through fifth grades.  The Brookings study claims to be the first that used “a randomized experiment to measure the impact of school vouchers on college enrollment.”  It also claims to be one of only a few studies to track longer-term outcomes, years after students received their first vouchers.

Overall, the study found no effect on college enrollment, except among African-Americans, where there was significant impact.

“Our estimates indicate that using a voucher to attend private school increased the overall college enrollment rate among African-Americans by 24%,” say Matthew M. Chingos and Paul E. Peterson, the study’s authors.

The study also indicates that enrollment rates in “selective colleges” more than doubled among African-American students who received vouchers.

The American Federation for Children, which calls itself “the nation’s voice for school choice,” quickly praised the findings. In a statement, senior adviser Kevin P. Chavous said, “Once again, the evidence clearly shows that putting all educational options on the table pays dividends for the students, both now and in the long term.”

But the National School Boards Association said the “study doesn’t live up to the hype.”

In a statement, Anne L. Bryant, the association’s executive director, said the study didn’t account for the level of parental involvement in a child’s education, which can also have a huge impact on academic success.

“Clearly the parents who chose this program were dedicated, and parent involvement is key,” Bryant said.

You can read the study, “The Effects of School Vouchers on College Enrollment,” here.

We want to know what you think:  Do you think vouchers can help solve some of the problems in U.S. schools? Post your comments below.


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Filed under: After High School • College • School choice
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Brian

    Those who are claiming this is a result of parent involvement are overlooking that the voucher recipients were chosen AT RANDOM and were compared to the other program applicants who were RANDOMLY selected for public school. In other words, if this is an effect of parental involvement, it must be that the private schools are more effective at getting parents involved. This is definitely NOT an effect of self-selection by highly involved parents.

    August 28, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  2. Mom of 4

    It depends on the state. California has one of the worst public school systems in the country. We have to get all new textbooks so we can be sure to teach the importance of homosexuality in history. We now have Harvey Milk Day, a man who was tragically shot and killed, but also was a promiscuous bath house occupier and a supporter of Jim Jones and the People's Temple. We have to teach environmentalism, political correctness, revisionist history in place of music, the arts and physical education. Teachers pensions and benefits are breaking us financially. The public school system here is broken and our kids are suffering for it. Kids in charter schools, private schools, religious schools, accelerated schools and home schoolers score higher than public school kids.

    August 28, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  3. HM8432

    Last year, my teenage daughter had to do a poster board project on a country. The geography teacher chose for her the 'Kingdom of Hawaii'; when my daughter turned in her report about the STATE of Hawaii, she got a 'C', and on the poster board, the teacher wrote, 'It's a country with a queen, not an American state or territory...' The middle school was a top-rated one, and knowing that, it's no wonder parents want to get their kids out of the public school system, and into GOOD schools. You can throw taxpayer money at the public schools and teacher unions all day, and it will just get wasted with lowest denominator performance at best.

    August 27, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Mom of 4

      One of the reasons why I home schooled for 20 years. That is absolutely mind blowing.

      August 28, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • wrewr

      No, your teacher meant the "Kingdom of Hawaii". It was a kingdom that lasted from the late 1800's to the early 1900's. Look it up here:

      August 28, 2012 at 9:37 am |
      • Ralph

        Goes back to the teacher was not "specific enough" when she said Hawaii.. If she wanted them to have a report on the Kingdom of Hawaii, she should have also mentioned the years it was a kingdom, so the kids dont get confused. How difficult is that? Usually in private schools, they even give a small summary of what the report should be about.. She should have said – Kingdom of Hawaii in 1891, when it was ruled by a queen..

        August 28, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  4. cz

    they'll take anything they can get for free!!

    August 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Alicia

      Amen to that.

      August 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  5. c s

    School vouchers are a scam. They drain money away from public education and give it to private schools. These private schools will always perform better because they can pick and choose their students. So the the students with the most problems and needing the most help are rejected. If a student presents any problems to the private schools, they are tossed out. The public schools on the other hand are required by LAW to take any and all students. Some special education students require one on one attention. These students easily cost between $20,000 and $30,000 per year in schooling cost. Do the private schools take these high cost students? No, no, never.

    School vouchers is just a way to use public money to fund mostly religious, private schools. They are totally a scam.

    August 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  6. max3333444555

    what exactly would the difference between a voucher and another type of scholarship be?

    August 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  7. Debbie

    The biggest predictor of student success is parental involvement. Period. If the parent has expectations in ANY school, the student will have higher achievement. Parents can also request transfers to other public schools. Using a voucher to attend private school is great, but "school choice" isn't always the choice of the parent. The school doesn't have to accept students that they don't think will succeed. Plus, the private schools are probably expensive enough to discourage a large number of potential applicants.

    August 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Dan H

      Well said and absolutely correct.

      August 27, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  8. MaKayla

    I think a college or school for athletes is a great idea. I mean when they retire some of the athletes think they got all the money in the world but they don't. They might have a lot of money but they really don't. They still have to pay for income,taxes,food,clothes,health insurance,auto insurance,life insurance,and bills. Lots of athletes are smart so they would save and put it in their bank account or stocks. Be smart!!!

    August 27, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  9. Dave

    I've been saying this for a long time – it's all about PARENTIAL involvement. DUH!

    August 27, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • cz

      they'll take anything that's for free!!

      August 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  10. Mark

    Don't look now, reality is calling. Quick....bury the story and find some crazy judge no one has ever heard of so you can blare his comments out on your front page!

    August 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm |