Panel Paper: The Effects of the Louisiana Scholarship Program on High School Graduation and College Entrance

Friday, November 9, 2018
Wilson B - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Heidi Holmes Erickson1, Jonathan N. Mills2 and Patrick J. Wolf1, (1)University of Arkansas, (2)Tulane University

The Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP) is a private school voucher program available to families who have incomes no greater than 250 percent of the federal poverty line and are also in a low performing public school. It began as a pilot program in New Orleans in 2008 and was expanded statewide in 2012. Previous evaluations of the LSP found negative math and English achievement impacts in the first year of the program. By the third year, program effects on achievement were statistically insignificant. In this paper, we evaluate the effects of the program on college enrollment for the first cohort of students who are eligible to enter college by 2016-17. Using lottery assignment for a student’s first choice private school, we are able to identify the causal effect of being awarded a scholarship on student attainment for nearly 500 randomized students who were in 9th-12th grade during the first year of the program. We find positive but statistically insignificant effects on college entrance for students who attended their first-choice private school. Future analyses will have access to additional grade cohorts of students and therefore hold the prospect of yielding more conclusive results regarding the effects of school voucher programs on an outcome that greatly matter to students.