Milwaukee Vouchers Boost Students' Chance of Graduating, Enrolling in College, Researchers Find

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas researchers found that a school voucher program in Milwaukee increases the likelihood of a student graduating from high school and enrolling in college.

A team led by Patrick J. Wolf, University of Arkansas professor of education reform and holder of an endowed chair in school choice, will report the findings from the fourth year of the evaluation at an event Wednesday, March 30, in Madison, Wisc. The School Choice Demonstration Project, a national research organization based in the department of education reform at the University of Arkansas, conducted the evaluation.

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program was the first urban school voucher program of its kind when it started in 1990. The program enrolled 20,899 students in 2009-10 at 111 private schools through the use of vouchers.

"At the start of our evaluation, we carefully matched the entire group of 801 9th-grade students enrolled in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program with a similar group of 801 9th-graders in Milwaukee Public Schools," Wolf said. "Four years later, the students in the voucher program were more likely to have graduated from high school and enroll in a four-year college than were their public school counterparts. Our estimates of the higher rates of college enrollment for the students in the voucher program ranged from 5 to 7 percentage points and were statistically significant in most of the comparisons."

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has proposed various changes to the voucher program that will likely result in an acceleration of its continued expansion, Wolf said.

Other findings to be announced today:

·         The voucher program remains popular among Milwaukee families, as evidenced by consistent and at times dramatic growth in enrollment over the past 12 years.

·         The voucher program saves the government money nearly $52 million in fiscal year 2011 although not all types of Wisconsin taxpayers benefit from the savings.

·         Both the voucher program and the Milwaukee Public Schools have succeeded in denying public funds to, or closing, a substantial number of low-performing schools over the past four years.

·         Students in the voucher program appear to be performing at lower levels than students in the younger grades in Milwaukee Public Schools but somewhat higher levels than students in the older grades in Milwaukee Public Schools. When similar students in both groups are tracked carefully over time, however, their rates of achievement growth are statistically similar after three years.  

·         Independent public charter schools are generating significantly higher rates of achievement growth for their students compared to similar students in Milwaukee Public Schools.

The full report can be read on the Website of the School Choice Demonstration Project.

Contacts

Patrick J. Wolf, professor and Twenty-First Century Chair in School
College of Education and Health Professions
479-445-9821, pwolf@uark.edu

Heidi Wells, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
479-575-3138, heidisw@uark.edu


Editor-selected comments will be published below. No abusive material, personal attacks, profanity, spam or material of a similar nature will be considered for publication.

comments powered by Disqus

Headlines

Video Features Guiding Priorities Crafted Through Campuswide Collaboration

Input from the faculty, staff and students was used to create future eight focus areas for university to make the University of Arkansas an even better institution.

Fall 2017 Honors Seminars to Focus on Cancer and Race

Signature Seminars explore cutting-edge topics, taught by campus leaders.

Are You Signed Up for Emergency and Inclement Weather Notifications?

The University of Arkansas system puts out important messages, but you may not get them unless you sign up.

Apply Today to Be a Student Leader in University Programs

Executive officer applications are due Wednesday, Feb. 8, at noon and committee chair applications are due Wednesday, Feb. 15, at noon.

January Cordes Chair Event

The Cordes Chair event for the month of January is being hosted Thursday by professor Greg Herman, Department of Architecture. The topic will be, "getting students to take control of their education."

Newswire Daily