Ceci Rouse is a labor economist who teaches at Princeton. She has evaluated the effects of vouchers in Milwaukee, and more recently has studied the effects of accountability in Florida with fellow cool person David Figlio.
With Lisa Barrow, Rouse has a new literature review out (School Vouchers and Student Achievement: Recent Evidence, Remaining Questions) about the effects of vouchers on both the students who receive them and the students who remain in public schools. Basically, the take home story is that we shouldn’t expect much from vouchers. No surprises there for those who have watched vouchers closely, but do check out Rouse’s great review of the literature:
The best research to date finds relatively small achievement gains for students offered education vouchers, most of which are not statistically different from zero. Further, what little evidence exists regarding the potential for public schools to respond to increased competitive pressure generated by vouchers suggests that one should remain wary that large improvements would result from a more comprehensive voucher system. The evidence from other forms of school choice is also consistent with this conclusion. Many questions remain unanswered, however, including whether vouchers have longer-run impacts on outcomes such as graduation rates, college enrollment, or even future wages, and whether vouchers might nevertheless provide a cost neutral alternative to our current system of public education provision at the elementary and secondary school level.
Here’s a very special weekend meditation for voucher die-hards from John Maynard Keynes: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
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