Study: Public-school students test better than voucher users


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Students who moved to private schools under a state-funded scholarships program tended to perform significantly worse on state reading and math tests compared with similar students who stayed in public schools, a new study has found.

The Columbus Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/29R4Vhc ) the study was released on Thursday by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank with offices in Washington, D.C., Columbus and Dayton.

The group reviewed student test data from the 2003-04 to 2012-13 school years, comparing students who used vouchers under Ohio’s $94.6 million EdChoice program with “closely matched peers” who stayed in voucher-eligible public schools.

The report said public school students who qualified for vouchers but didn’t use them saw “modest” improvements in achievement, indicating the program created competition and encouraged improvements in the public schools.

“For years, voucher critics have argued that students staying in public schools were hurt by voucher programs,” said Chad Aldis, vice president for Ohio policy and advocacy at the think tank. “It’s heartening to see that healthy competition can improve achievement.”

That competition benefits schools and motivates everyone to work harder to meet students’ needs, said Brittany Halpin, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, which oversees the program.

To find similar students, the study looked only at students who were attending or who had been enrolled at the better poor-performing schools and focused on the original EdChoice program. Low-income students in the program’s recent statewide expansion weren’t included, and neither were those in Cleveland’s voucher program.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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