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Competition in the sandbox: A test of the effects of preschool competition on educational outcomes

Author

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  • Gary T. Henry

    (Georgia State University)

  • Craig S. Gordon

    (Georgia State University)

Abstract

The emergence of publicly subsidized preschool raises important policy questions about the role of market forces and, in places where competition to provide these services exists, presents a setting in which the effects of competition on educational outcomes can be tested. We test neo-institutional hypotheses concerning the effects of competition to provide publicly-funded prekindergarten (pre-k) services on the performance of public schools and private organizations. We use student-level data collected over a five-year period on a large sample of children who attended publicly subsidized prekindergarten in Georgia. Overall, we find that more competition improves third grade reading and math test scores but does not significantly affect retention or school readiness ratings during elementary school. Not all children are equally affected by competition; for example, greater competition significantly decreases the likelihood of retention for children of the working poor. Contrary to the expectations of some theorists, both public schools and private organizations respond to increased competition in ways that improve test scores but not retention. However, children attending private prekindergarten have higher language arts scores and lower retention across the range of competition when compared with children who attended public school pre-k. © 2006 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management

Suggested Citation

  • Gary T. Henry & Craig S. Gordon, 2006. "Competition in the sandbox: A test of the effects of preschool competition on educational outcomes," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(1), pages 97-127.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:25:y:2006:i:1:p:97-127
    DOI: 10.1002/pam.20158
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2004. "Remedial Education and Student Achievement: A Regression-Discontinuity Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 226-244, February.
    2. Couch, Jim F & Shughart, William F, II & Williams, Al L, 1993. "Private School Enrollment and Public School Performance," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 76(4), pages 301-312, August.
    3. Alejandra Mizala & Pilar Romaguera, 2000. "School Performance and Choice: The Chilean Experience," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(2), pages 392-417.
    4. Paul Teske & Mark Schneider, 2001. "What Research Can Tell Policymakers about School Choice," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 609-631.
    5. William T. Gormley, Jr. & Ted Gayer, 2005. "Promoting School Readiness in Oklahoma: An Evaluation of Tulsa's Pre-K Program," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
    6. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E, 1998. "Competition between Private and Public Schools, Vouchers, and Peer-Group Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 33-62, March.
    7. repec:cup:apsrev:v:95:y:2001:i:01:p:49-69_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Borland, Melvin V. & Howsen, Roy M., 1993. "On the determination of the critical level of market concentration in education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 165-169, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mildred E. Warner & Raymond Gradus, 2009. "The Consequences of Implementing a Child Care Voucher: Evidence from Australia, The Netherlands and USA," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 09-078/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    2. Levin, Henry M. & Schwartz, Heather L., 2007. "Educational vouchers for universal pre-schools," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 3-16, February.
    3. John Witte & David Weimer & Arnold Shober & Paul Schlomer, 2007. "The performance of charter schools in Wisconsin," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(3), pages 557-573.

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