Program

Apr 08, 2007

OVERVIEW

The School Choice Scholarships Program provided 1,300 school
vouchers to low-income families in grades K-4. Vouchers were $1,400 per year
and families could use them for up to four years at a religious or secular
private school. Participants in the programs were not required to use the
vouchers. Results of an evaluation found no overall impacts on parental
involvement in school, drug use, or test scores on an assessment of reading and
math. However, some subgroup differences were found, with positive impacts
found for African American students.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Elementary school students in
low-income families.

Low-income children were offered school vouchers. Vouchers
were $1,400 per year and families were eligible to use them
for up to four years. Vouchers could be applied towards the cost of attending a
private school (religious or secular).

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Mayer, D.P., Peterson, P.E., Myers,
D.E., Tuttle, C.C., & Howell, W.G. (2002).
School choice
in New York City:
An evaluation of the School Choice Scholarships Program.
Princeton, NJ:
Mathematica Policy Research.

Evaluated population: 1,960 children in low-income
families attending New York City Public schools. Families were randomly selected
to participate in the evaluation from the 20,000 applications to participate in
the program.

Approach: The 1,960 children were randomly assigned
to an experimental or control group. After random assignment, 1,000 families
were assigned to a experimental group who were offered
vouchers, and 960 families were assigned to a control group. Children
were given a pre-test (in 1997) of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) in
reading and mathematics before random assignment and the following three years
at follow-ups (in 1998, 1999, and 2000). Parents were also interviewed at the
same time.

Results: The results presented here are based on all
children. While not all children who were offered vouchers used them, analyses
properly employ an intent-to-treat approach and accordingly all children who
were offered vouchers in the experimental group are examined. 78% of the
children in the experimental group attended private schools compared with 12%
of the children in the control group. With regard to the experimental group,
there were no differences between children who used vouchers compared with
those which did not on initial scores on the ITBS. However, there were
differences on several dimensions including maternal level of education, family
income, and race (e.g., African American children were more likely to use the
voucher).

With regard to parental involvement, results indicated that
parental involvement in the children’s education did
not differ between the control and experimental group. Likewise, the groups did
not differ on friends’ drug and alcohol use.

With regard to test performance, experimental and control
children did not differ on measures of reading or math. However, when examining
only African American and Latino students, differences emerged among the
African American sample. African American children who received the voucher
offer scored higher on measures of reading and math. Interestingly, similar
results emerged when comparing children who used vouchers to the control group.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Curriculum materials available for purchase at: Not
available

References:

Mayer, D.P., Peterson, P.E., Myers, D.E.,
Tuttle, C.C., & Howell, W.G. (2002). School choice in New York City: An
evaluation of the School Choice Scholarships Program.
Princeton, NJ:
Mathematica Policy Research.

KEYWORDS: Elementary School, Children, Middle
Childhood (6-11), Vouchers, Parental Involvement, Substance Use, Academic
Achievement, Private School, Urban, African American or Black, Latino or
Hispanic, Reading, Mathematics, Education, White or Caucasian.

Program information last updated on 4/8/07

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