A new study by a Washington, D.C.-based think tank has found low-income students in Florida who attend private schools with the help of a controversial, state-approved voucher program are more likely to enroll in and graduate from in-state public colleges than their similarly situated peers who stick with public schools.
School choice advocates applauded the recent findings by the Urban Institute as further verification of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarships’ effectiveness, while opponents expressed skepticism by calling into question the study’s methodology.
“At a time when community leaders, lawmakers and researchers are looking for tools to help more low-income students enroll in higher education, Florida has a program that is successfully doing exactly that,” said Adam Peshek, education choice director for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a national nonprofit founded by former Gov. Jeb Bush that promotes school choice options. (Current U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — like Bush, an avid school choice supporter — served on the foundation’s board before she joined the Trump Administration.)
The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program began in 2001 as a way to help children from low-income families access alternative educational options.
Matthew Chingos and Daniel Kuehn, who authored the institute’s study, concluded that “the nation’s largest private school choice program helps get students into college, but too many still fail to earn degrees.”
“A fuller understanding of what this means for these students will require continuing to track their outcomes, including bachelor’s degree attainment rates and incomes,” they wrote.