School Vouchers and Student Achievement: Recent Evidence and Remaining Questions

Posted: 31 Aug 2011

See all articles by Cecilia E. Rouse

Cecilia E. Rouse

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Lisa Barrow

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2009

Abstract

In this article, we review the empirical evidence on the impact of education vouchers on student achievement and briefly discuss the evidence from other forms of school choice. The best research to date finds relatively small achievement gains for students offered education vouchers, most of which are not statistically different from zero. Furthermore, what little evidence exists regarding the potential for public schools to respond to increased competitive pressure generated by vouchers suggests that one should remain wary that large improvements would result from a more comprehensive voucher system. The evidence from other forms of school choice is also consistent with this conclusion. Many questions remain unanswered, however, including whether vouchers have longer-run impacts on outcomes such as graduation rates, college enrollment, or even future wages, and whether vouchers might nevertheless provide a cost-neutral alternative to our current system of public education provision at the elementary and secondary school level.

Suggested Citation

Rouse, Cecilia E. and Barrow, Lisa, School Vouchers and Student Achievement: Recent Evidence and Remaining Questions (January 2009). Annual Review of Economics, Vol. 1, pp. 17-42, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1920091 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.economics.050708.143354

Cecilia E. Rouse (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-2098
United States
609-258-4042 (Phone)
609-258-2907 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Lisa Barrow

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ( email )

230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States
312-322-5073 (Phone)
312-322-2357 (Fax)

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