NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Voucher Threat Makes Florida Schools Shape Up

February 16, 2001

Simply the threat of having vouchers offered to students might be enough to trigger improvements in standardized test scores, according to a new study.

The comprehensive, nonpartisan study by education researcher Jay Greene examined Florida's A-Plus voucher program -- the only statewide voucher program in the U.S. -- showed schools facing vouchers posted larger improvement on tests than schools that didn't face the threat.

  • A-Plus assigns public schools a grade, A through F, based on the proportion of their students who pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).
  • Students attending schools that receive two F grades in four years are eligible to receive vouchers to pay for tuition at parochial or private schools.
  • Greene found schools that received a failing grade from the state in 1999, and whose students would have been offered vouchers if they'd failed a second time, achieved an 18-point gain on FCAT reading scores, compared to a 4.5 percent gain for schools earning a C.
  • In math, failing schools improved their FCAT scores by about 26 points, compared with a 12-point gain at C schools.

The study bodes well for President Bush's education plans being discussed in Congress. Bush wants to test all students in grades three through eight and issues school-by-school report cards. Students in schools that fail three years in a row would be offered $1,500 in government money to go to other schools.

Source: Tamara Henry, "Florida Schools Shape Up Amid Voucher Threat," USA Today, February 16, 2001.

For Greene study


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