Carr Makes It 19-0

August 17, 2011

This finding’s been replicated more often than Picard’s Earl Grey.

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Still clearing the backlog: I haven’t had a chance yet to tout this new empirical study of Ohio’s EdChoice voucher program, by my old colleague Matt Carr, finding that – guess what, you’ll never believe this – vouchers improve outcomes at public schools!

Building on a large body of previous studies, this makes it nineteen (19) high-quality empirical studies finding school choice improves public schools and zero (0) studies finding it harms public schools.

Interestingly, Carr finds the positive impact is concentrated among the highest and lowest performing students. Since EdChoice is a failing schools voucher, you might expect schools to respond by improving service to those “bubble” students who are near the state proficiency cutoff. However, Carr finds the opposite.

Matt hypothesizes – plausibly enough – that schools are responding by improving services to the students who are most likely to use the voucher to leave. Low-performing students have the most obvious motivation to seek better services, while high-performing students are the most likely to have actively involved parents.

I do have one quibble with the study. Matt writes that his study “provides an analysis of a voucher program that has not yet been rigorously studied for its competitive effects on traditional public schools.”

Oh, really?

Ohio Charters Save Money for Public Schools and Taxpayers

November 14, 2008

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

It’s raining studies! After this one and then this one comes a study out today from Matthew Carr and Beth Lear of the Buckeye Institute. It’s a fiscal analysis of how charter schools impact the finances of regular public schools in Ohio’s “Big 8” cities.

When a student leaves a regular public school for a charter school (or a private school for that matter), the district loses the state revenue stream associated with that student, but it gains on the local revenue side because local revenues don’t go down, allowing the district to take that student’s share of local funds and redirect it to funding the education of the students who remain behind. The net fiscal impact depends on which is bigger, the state revenue stream per student or the local property taxes per student.

Carr and Lear find that in Ohio’s Big 8, the regular public schools are fiscal winners when students leave for charter schools. The biggest savings are in Cincinnati, where the net gain is $4,030 per student; the lowest is in Canton, where the net gain is $918 per student.

Charters in Ohio’s Big 8 also keep overall educational costs down by providing a better education (as Carr’s previous work in Ohio has shown) for less money per student.

Yet Another Study Finds Vouchers Improve Public Schools

August 21, 2008

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

The Friedman Foundation has just released my new study showing that Ohio’s EdChoice voucher program had a positive impact on academic outcomes in public schools. I’m told that it has generated a number of news hits, though the only reporter to interview me so far was the author of this piece in the Columbus Dispatch. When she interviewed me I thought she was hostile, because her questions put me a little off balance, but the article is perfectly fair. I guess if the reporter is doing her job right, the interviewees ought to feel like they were being challenged. The final product is what counts.

The positive results that I found from the EdChoice program were substantial but not revolutionary. That’s not surprising, given that 1) failing-schools vouchers aren’t the optimum way to structure voucher programs in the first place, and 2) the data were from the program’s first year, when it was smaller and more restricted than it is now.

It’s too early to be sure, but among the large body of empirical studies consistently showing that vouchers improve public schools, a pattern seems to be emerging that voucher programs have a bigger impact on public schools when they’re larger, more universal, and have fewer obstacles to parental participation. That’s worth watching and studying further as opportunities arise.

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