Panel: Short-Term and Long-Term Impacts of School Choice

Thursday, November 2, 2017: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Water Tower (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Julian Betts, University of California, San Diego
Panel Chairs:  Stephen Q. Cornman, U.S. Department of Education
Discussants:  Steven Rivkin, University of Illinois, Chicago and Collin Hitt, Illinois State Board of Education; Southern Illinois University

The Long-Term Effects of Public School Choice: Lottery Evidence from San Diego
Julian Betts, Sam Young, Andrew Zau and Karen Volz Bachofer, University of California, San Diego

The Experimental Effects of the Louisiana Scholarship Program on Student Achievement after Three Years
Patrick J. Wolf, University of Arkansas and Jonathan N. Mills, Tulane University

Voucher Variation: Heterogeneous Impacts on Student Outcomes across Indiana Private Schools
Joseph Waddington, University of Kentucky and Mark Berends, Notre Dame University

The Effects of Increasing School Choice and Family Resources on Achievement and Segregation: Chile from 2002 to 2013
Paul von Hippel, University of Texas, Austin and Alvaro Quezada-Hofflinger, Universidad de la Frontera

School choice represents one of the most important and topical K-12 education policy issues in the United States. In countries such as Chile, with more widespread use of school choice, school choice is also contentious. Proponents of school choice argue that families, by having a choice of schools for their children, will pick a school that is best suited to their child's needs. Further, they argue that school choice truly equalizes opportunity by opening the doors of the best schools to all children, regardless of the students' background or the neighborhood in which they happen to live. Opponents fear balkanization of the public school system. One form of school choice -- publicly funded vouchers that allow students to attend private school -- raises a second concern, at least in the United States, about the separation of church and state. 

The central question about school choice is whether students who participate in choice have better outcomes than they would otherwise obtain. Given evidence that switching schools can temporarily lower student's academic performance, it is important to examine how students who participate in school choice perform immediately after entering a program but also several to many years later. For this reason, the papers in the panel emphasize the importance of examining impacts at various points in time after a student enters, or applies to enter, a school choice program.

The proposed panel brings together four research projects designed to examine the impact of school choice on a variety of academic and behavioral outcomes, both immediately after students enter the program and in the medium and longer term. The programs encompass four of the most widespread and controversial types of choice, with three studies of the United States and one study of Chile. Two studies examine statewide voucher programs in Louisiana and Indiana. Another paper studies Chile's nationwide school voucher system. The fourth study examines magnet school, open enrollment, and a program that uses voluntary busing to integrate a large school district in southern California. All three voucher studies examine impacts one versus several years after enrollment in the choice program. The California study examines a number of outcomes during the secondary school years, as well as postsecondary enrollment and postsecondary degree attainment up to six years after high school graduation.

Just as effects may vary over time, the impact of school choice programs could vary by subject area and student demographic group. The papers examine both math and reading achievement and variations in impact by student subgroup.

The papers use either lotteries to generate an randomized control trial, or rigorous quasi-experimental methods that account for students' past academic trajectory.

The panel brings together considerable diversity in expertise, with paper presenters who specialize in political science, sociology and economics, and other panel members whose postgraduate training includes  education policy, economics, law and public affairs. The panel includes two practitioners for whom research is relevant to their work with the U.S. Department of Education and as a member of the Illinois State Board of Education.

See more of: Education
See more of: Panel