Five sister reports published by the Friedman Foundation over the past two years have ignored the relevant research literature in asserting that private-school voucher programs can reduce the social costs of dropping out while increasing graduation rates. The reports are state-specific, targeting five different states. But each report follows a parallel structure, arguing that the state in question overestimates its graduation rate, that the costs of dropping out are dramatic and that a private school voucher program can increase graduation and address the dropout problem by generating competition. Yet the reports largely ignore the existing research literature on the personal and social benefits of educational attainment, the effects of school competition, and the factors associated with either completing or dropping out of high school. Further, each report does not provide sufficient information about how the author estimated the statistical claims made for each state, and the author fails to compare the alleged benefits of private-school vouchers with plausible alternatives, such as increasing public-school choice programs or improving graduation through other programs. State policymakers interested in increasing graduation would be better served by seeking out the available, well-researched scholarship on the topic.
Dorn, S. (2008). Review of "Five State Dropout Reports." Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Retrieved [date] from http://epicpolicy.org/thinktank/review-five-state-dropout-reports