In a new study released today by a team of researchers led by Josh Cowen at the University of Kentucky, we learn that voucher students in Milwaukee are more likely to graduate high school and go to a four year college than their counterparts in the Milwaukee Public Schools. The report concludes:
MPCP [voucher] students were more likely to have enrolled in a four year college, even after accounting for race, gender and prior achievement. They were less likely to have dropped out of high school or remained enrolled after four years. These differences may be partially explained by family background characteristics such as parental education and income. They do not appear to be related to private school “creamskimming” of students into or out of MPCP between 8th and 9th grade.
Attending a private school with a voucher resulted in about a 7 percentage point improvement in the probability of attending a four year college. Considering that is a move from about 32% to 39% attending 4 year college, it is a big effect.
And this attainment benefit is consistent with the findings of the U.S. Department of Education’s official evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship voucher program, led by my colleague Patrick Wolf, which found:
The offer of an OSP scholarship raised students’ probability of completing high school by 12 percentage points overall (figure ES-3). The graduation rate based on parent-provided information was 82 percent for the treatment group compared to 70 percent for the control group. The offer of a scholarship improved the graduation prospects by 13 percentage points for the high priority group of students from schools designated SINI in 2003-05 (79 percent graduation rate for the treatment group versus 66 percent for the control group).
Despite these positive results, the Obama Administration issued a statement opposing the continuation and expansion of the DC voucher program, on which the U.S. House is scheduled to vote today. They boldly (and falsely) declared:
Private school vouchers are not an effective way to improve student achievement. The Administration strongly opposes expanding the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and opening it to new students. Rigorous evaluation over several years demonstrates that the D.C. program has not yielded improved student achievement by its scholarship recipients compared to other students in D.C.
Given the lack of intellectual honesty on the part of the Obama Administration in declaring that vouchers have no benefits for students even after rigorous research (including the official evaluation they released!) finds otherwise, confirms the danger of entrusting any additional authority over eduction policy in the national government. They will lie, cheat, and crush their opponents, so why would we want to give these folks control over a nationalized set of standards, curriculum, and testing.