Study: Vouchers improve public schools
Competition from private-school vouchers has led to small but consistent academic improvements in Florida's public schools, a new study concludes.
After the introduction of tax-credit vouchers for low-income students in 2001, students in public schools with a greater and more diverse array of private schools nearby showed greater gains in standardized test scores than students in public schools with fewer private schools around them, found David Figlio and Cassandra Hart at Northwestern University.
The gains were roughly one-third to one-half as big as the gains associated with large reductions in class size. They were biggest for elementary and middle schools, and for schools at risk of losing grant money that is tied to the proportion of low-income students they have.
"We tried to throw everything we could at the data, and the results stuck," Figlio told the Gradebook.
Still, he emphasized that the effects are modest. "Anybody looking for a silver bullet has to keep looking," he said. "What we find is certainly positive and statistically strong, but it's not like public schools are revolutionizing overnight because of this either."
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