Effects of Scaling Up Private School Choice Programs on Public School Students
Using a rich dataset that merges student-level school records with birth records, and a student fixed effect design, we explore how the massive scale-up of a Florida private school choice program affected public school students’ outcomes. Expansion of the program produced modestly larger benefits for students attending public schools that had a larger initial degree of private school options, measured prior to the introduction of the voucher program. These benefits include higher standardized test scores and lower absenteeism and suspension rates. Effects are particularly pronounced for lower-income students, but results are positive for more affluent students as well.
We are grateful to the Florida Departments of Education and Health for providing de-identified, matched data used in this analysis. Figlio acknowledges support from National Science Foundation, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Institute for Education Sciences (CALDER grant), and the Shelter Hill Foundation for assistance in building the dataset and/or conducting this research. We thank Michael Dinerstein, Stefanie Fischer and seminar participants at the CESifo Economics of Education Meeting and University of New South Wales for helpful comments and suggestions. The conclusions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not represent the positions of the Florida Departments of Education and Health, nor those of our funders, nor those of the National Bureau of Economic Research. All errors are our own.