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Private School Vouchers and Student Achievement: An Evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program

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  • Cecilia Elena Rouse

Abstract

In 1990, Wisconsin became the first state in the country to provide vouchers to low income students to attend non-sectarian private schools. In this paper, I use a variety of estimation strategies and samples to estimate the effect of the program on math and reading scores. First, since schools selected students randomly from among their applicants if the school was oversubscribed, I compare the academic achievement of students who were selected to those who were not selected. Second, I present instrumental variables estimates of the effectiveness of private schools (relative to public schools) using the initial selection as an instrumental variable for attendance at a private school. Finally, I used a fixed-effects strategy to compare students enrolled in the private schools to a sample of students from the Milwaukee public schools. I find that the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program appears to have had a positive effect on the math achievement of those who attended a private school; but had no benefits for reading scores. I have found the results to be fairly robust to data imputations and sample attrition, however these limitations should be kept in mind when interpreting the results.

Suggested Citation

  • Cecilia Elena Rouse, 1997. "Private School Vouchers and Student Achievement: An Evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program," NBER Working Papers 5964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5964
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. James J. Heckman, 1995. "Randomization as an Instrumental Variable," NBER Technical Working Papers 0184, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    3. Eric A. Hanushek, 1979. "Conceptual and Empirical Issues in the Estimation of Educational Production Functions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(3), pages 351-388.
    4. Akin, John S & Garfinkel, Irv, 1980. "The Quality of Education and Cohort Variation in Black-White Earnings Differentials: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(1), pages 186-191, March.
    5. William N. Evans & Robert M. Schwab, 1995. "Finishing High School and Starting College: Do Catholic Schools Make a Difference?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(4), pages 941-974.
    6. James J. Heckman, 1995. "Instrumental Variables: A Cautionary Tale," NBER Technical Working Papers 0185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Jonathan Gruber, 1996. "Cash Welfare as a Consumption Smoothing Mechanism for Single Mothers," NBER Working Papers 5738, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Richard J. Murnane, 1984. "A Review Essay-Comparisons of Public and Private Schools: Lessons from the Uproar," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(2), pages 263-277.
    9. Link, Charles & Ratledge, Edward & Lewis, Kenneth, 1980. "The Quality of Education and Cohort Variation in Black-White Earnings Differentials: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(1), pages 196-203, March.
    10. Behrman, Jere R & Birdsall, Nancy, 1983. "The Quality of Schooling: Quantity Alone is Misleading," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 928-946, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Fernando Coloma, 1999. "Posibilidades de Competencia en el Sector Educacional Subvencionado," Latin American Journal of Economics-formerly Cuadernos de Economía, Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 36(108), pages 781-839.
    2. Alan B. Krueger & Pei Zhu, 2002. "Another Look at the New York City School Voucher Experiment," Working Papers 849, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    3. Jens Otto Ludwig & Helen F. Ladd, 1998. "The Effects of MTO on Educational Opportunities in Baltimore: Early Evidence," JCPR Working Papers 25, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    4. Welsch, David M. & Zimmer, David M., 2012. "Do student migrations affect school performance? Evidence from Wisconsin's inter-district public school program," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 195-207.
    5. Alejandra Mizala & Pilar Romaguera, 1998. "Desempeño escolar y elección de colegios: La experiencia chilena," Documentos de Trabajo 36, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    6. Christopher Nelson & Kevin Hollenbeck, 2001. "Does Charter School Attendance Improve Test Scores?: Comments and Reactions on the Arizona Achievement Study," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 01-70, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    7. Henry M. Levin, 1998. "Educational vouchers: Effectiveness, choice, and costs," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(3), pages 373-392.
    8. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Pablo González & Alejandra Mizala & Pilar Romaguera, 2002. "Recursos diferenciados a la educación subvencionada en Chile," Documentos de Trabajo 150, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    10. Rouse, Cecilia Elena & Krueger, Alan B., 2004. "Putting computerized instruction to the test: a randomized evaluation of a "scientifically based" reading program," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 323-338, August.

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    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General

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