The Effects of Regulations on Private School Choice Program Participation: Experimental Evidence from Florida
36 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2018
Date Written: October 22, 2018
When deciding whether to participate in a private school choice program, private school leaders weigh additional financial benefits against additional regulatory costs. In theory, raising the costs associated with entering private school choice programs should reduce the likelihood that individual schools participate in those programs. However, very little empirical evidence exists evaluating this idea. While a few studies suggest that more highly regulated programs are correlated with lower levels of school participation, none have established causal relationships between these factors, and none have determined which program regulations are the most costly. Because it is nearly impossible to randomly assign program regulations to individual private schools, we use surveys to randomly assign different regulations to 3,080 private school leaders in Florida and ask them whether they would participate in a new private school choice program during the following school year. Relative to no regulations, our most conservative models find that open-enrollment mandates reduce the likelihood that private schools are certain to participate by about 17 percentage points, or 70 percent. State standardized testing requirements reduce the likelihood that private schools are certain to participate by 11 percentage points, or 44 percent. We find no evidence to suggest that the prohibition of copayment affects program participation overall. These estimates of the impact of regulatory requirements on the expressed willingness of private school principals to participate in a private school choice program are causal because random assignment leads to equivalence in expectation across treatment and control groups on both measurable and unmeasurable factors. We also find evidence to suggest that higher quality schools – as measured by tuition levels and enrollment trends – are more likely to be deterred by program regulations.
Keywords: private school, school choice, school vouchers, schooling supply, regulations
JEL Classification: I28, I20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation