Policies and programs that allow students to use public funds to finance private school educations—such as tax credit scholarships, vouchers, or education savings accounts—have proliferated in recent years. Yet, evidence on the long-term effects of such programs is scarce.
Research on private school choice program outcomes has often measured impact by examining student achievement, frequently using standardized test scores. Although test scores are an important measure of student success, they might not capture other effects these programs can have on student development.
In this collection of reports, we look at whether private school choice programs affect the rate at which students go to and graduate from college. Studies have shown that students with higher levels of educational attainment live longer, earn more money, and avoid welfare and the criminal justice system at higher rates than students with lower attainment levels.
Our research on three private school choice programs finds that these programs and policies don’t always play out in the same way. While some programs demonstrated positive impacts on student attainment levels, others had little to no effect.
The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program had positive effects on college enrollment, mainly in community colleges, but no consistent effect on degree attainment.
The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program had positive effects on college enrollment, especially at four-year colleges, but no effect on degree attainment.
Washington, DC’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, the nation’s only federally funded private school voucher program, had no effect on college enrollment.
For a more in-depth look at the private school choice programs and their effects on student attainment, explore the three studies below.