The effects of school vouchers

I just ran across this abstract in the Journal of Public Economics. I reproduce it here for what it is worth.   I mean that literally, as it is not me pushing a barrow.   I don’t have a considered view and have done very little reading on this.   Anyway, here’s the abstract.

In 1981, Chile introduced nationwide school choice by providing vouchers to any student wishing to attend private school. As a result, more than 1000 private schools entered the market, and the private enrollment rate increased by 20 percentage points, with greater impacts in larger, more urban, and wealthier communities. We use this differential impact to measure the effects of unrestricted choice on educational outcomes. Using panel data for about 150 municipalities, we find no evidence that choice improved average educational outcomes as measured by test scores, repetition rates, and years of schooling. However, we find evidence that the voucher program led to increased sorting, as the bbestQ public school students left for the private sector.

Chang-Tai Hsieh, Miguel Urquiola 2006, “The effects of generalized school choice on achievement and stratification: Evidence from Chile’s voucher program”, Journal of Public Economics 90 (2006) 1477 1503

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Jennifer
15 years ago

It does seem to me that unless you stop people from topping up the vouchers with their own money, all you achieve in the long term from vouchers is allow richer people to get a more expensive (note, not necessarily “better”) education than poor ones. That’s pretty much how it works in Australia today, it’s just that our vouchers are convoluted and somewhat means-tested.

taust
taust
15 years ago

Have you not also increased the opportunity for people to choose their schooling?

observa
observa
15 years ago

Most of the choice of private schools is to cast off the dregs of the one size fits all public sector. Of course this can be obtained to a large extent in tightly zoned public schools in upmarket suburbs too. Essentially the price of real esate keeps out the riff raff and their offspring. This has the downside of further eroding the outcomes of the public system as more resources (mainly class teacher time) are spent on problem students. Whilst the public system can play musical chairs a bit with their unruly problems, ultimately they are the educator of last resort. Couple this with the feminisation of teaching and unruly male adolescents, often with no male discipline/role model at home, can further compound the problems of public ed. The simple answer of course is the tried and true of my parents and grandparents. If it doesn’t go in through the ear then it goes in through the rear. Essentially we give children the choice. Misbehave and you get the current softly softly rigmarole with a 3 strikes and you’re in policy. In where? To the special high discipline, corporal punishment schools of last resort. It’s your choice kiddies.

Ron
Ron
15 years ago

“feminisation of teaching” is a major cause of “unruly male adolescents” in schools (and perhaps reaches out into society as result), as far as I’m concerned. In my experience most female teachers (I would like to say all) just do not allow boys to be, well, BOYS – they want them to be nice obedient little “girly-men”.

My son did not have a male teacher for the first seven years of his schooling. No one can convince me that this does not affect boys’ development.

I am sick to death of hearing about teachers wanting more money because they are ‘professionals’ – let them prove it by acting like professionals and submitting to annual performance assessments like other professionals.

Am I bitter about education? Yes, although I consider myself a ‘leftie’, this is one area where the hairy-legged brigade got its way and damaged a generation or two of boys.

Corin
15 years ago

Nicholas, the solution to both the “top up problem” (perhaps not quite right word) as well as the sorting is a differential sum in the voucher paid on basis of means testing family circumstance. i wrote a couple of pieces, then read Andrew Leigh who had written it first and in a better manner, last I recently read Craig Emerson whose view that a voucher should also attach to it universal obligations on the recipient school to meet anti-discrimination criteria for entry was also well considered.

these were my articles on it prior to the later reading mentioned aboved:

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=4370

http://www.newmatilda.com/policytoolkit/policydetail.asp?policyID=363

observa
observa
15 years ago

I’m for Tarzan but here’s more of the typical feminist Jane approach
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,20312504-1246,00.html?from=public_rss
Bah!

Ron
Ron
15 years ago

I think this OnlineOpinion article should be read in conjunction with Corin’s:

http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=4795

observa
observa
15 years ago

Don’t ask me what this kind of approach is though http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,20313313-401,00.html?from=public_rss

Thomas the Tout
Thomas the Tout
15 years ago

This will be a bit vague – apologies for that. I recall reading that NZ tried the voucher system (or similar) for schools, and found that the clever and ambitious pupils moved to like-minded schools, leaving the lower percentiles behind, which then made a denser school population for those that stayed put.