Voucher Program Effects: The Role of Private School Participation
John Singleton

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Rochester

Primary Discipline

A number of U.S. states have recently created or expanded eligibility for programs offering vouchers to K-12 students to attend private schools. These programs aim to increase access to high quality schools, particularly for students who are disadvantaged or underserved by public schools. However, recent findings from multiple states indicate significant and sharp negative effects of vouchers on the academic achievement of recipients. While alarming, an important reason these findings remain of limited value for policy is that they neglect private schoolsââ?¬â?¢ decisions to participate in the first place. Because private schools select to participate (or not) ââ?¬â?? and because those that are most effective at increasing student learning maybe least likely to seek public subsidy ââ?¬â?? private schools that participate in voucher programs may be worse than private schools on average. This has important policy implications for the design and expansion of voucher programs. The project will draw upon student-level records from Ohioââ?¬â?¢s Educational Choice Scholarship Program, a statewide voucher program implemented in the 2006-7 school year. These data will also be linked with longer-run outcomes, such as high school completion and college attendance, to assess the effectiveness of vouchers in terms of human capital accumulation (not just test scores). The projectââ?¬â?¢s research design will leverage quasi-experiment variation in order to quantify the direction and magnitude of participation bias in estimates of voucher programsââ?¬â?¢ effects and to study counterfactual policy changes.
About John Singleton
John D. Singleton is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Rochester. He earned his B.A. in 2008 from Calvin University and his Ph.D. in economics in 2017 from Duke University, where his dissertation was supported by a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation fellowship. His work focuses on the implications of school choice policies, such as charter schools and private school vouchers, for educational equity and has appeared in American Economic Review, Journal of Public Economics, Education Finance and Policy, and Economics of Education Review, among other outlets

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