Value of Vouchers Hasn't Changed
August 13, 2003
After re-analyzing their data from dozens of angles, Paul Petersen and William Howell defend the conclusions of their recent study, which showed positive effects for African-American students enrolled in a voucher program in New York City.
The original study tracked some 1,200 public school students that were given vouchers worth $1,400 to help pay the cost of private school. A research team collected baseline test scores and followed the student's progress for three years. According to their findings:
- African-American students in private schools, after three years, scored roughly eight percentile points higher on reading and math portions of standardized tests than did their peers in public school.
- The authors looked at the evidence in 120 different ways, and in 108 of the estimations used they found significantly positive effects for African-Americans.
- A student was first classified as African-American if his or her mother was African-American; second, when both parents were; third, when the parental caretaker was; and fourth, when either the mother or father was.
- No matter the definition of ethnicity, the results remained the same: private schooling had a positive influence on African-American student performance in all three years the study was conducted.
Furthermore, students benefited from the private schooling regardless of what grade they were in when they entered the program.
Source: Paul E. Petersen and William G. Howell, "Again, Our Study Shows the Value of Vouchers," Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2003; and Jay P. Greene, "An Unfair Grade for Vouchers," Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2003.
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