School Choice & Charters

La. Voucher Program May Improve Racial Integration, Study Says

By Katie Ash — October 03, 2013 1 min read
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The use of private school vouchers in Louisiana has had some positive effects on racial integration in the state, says an article published today in Education Next.

The article comes after the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the state seeking to stop vouchers from being used in districts where desegregation orders are still in effect. The Department of Justice alleges that the voucher program interferes with racial integration efforts in those districts.

Of the sample set used by the study, 83 percent of the schools that students used vouchers to transfer out of experienced an improvement in racial integration. Looking at the schools that such students transferred into, the transfers were split almost equally between having a positive and negative impact on racial integration.

The study measures a student’s move to another school as integration-improving if the child’s transfer brings the school’s racial composition closer to that of the surrounding community. (For puposes of comparison, the authors use something called the Core-Based Statistical Area, a wide swath of geography from which a school might reasonably expect to draw students.)

The analysis is based on data from the 2009-10 school year, the most recent date for which data are available, and includes only those transfer students who were old enough to participate in state assessments—in other words, 3rd grade and up.

When the study looked specifically at those districts still under desegregation orders, it found that for the schools that students transferred out of, 74 percent of the moves improved integration. In the schools where the students transferred into, about 56 percent of the moves improved racial integration.

And on an unrelated housekeeping note: Posting on the blog may be a bit light next week, as I will be out of the office, although some of my colleagues may be stepping in to post any pressing school choice-related news. I will catch up with you all when I return!

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.