NEPC Review: Promising Start: An Empirical Analysis of How EdChoice Vouchers Affect Ohio Public Schools

A Friedman Foundation report attempts to find empirical support for the contention that competition from private schools, through voucher programs, improves the effectiveness of public schools. In the first year of Ohio’s new EdChoice voucher program, the report claims to have found substantial academic gains at public schools exposed to the possibility of losing students to vouchers. Despite being presented as scientifically rigorous, the report suffers from serious methodological shortcomings. A Friedman Foundation report attempts to find empirical support for the contention that competition from private schools, through voucher programs, improves the effectiveness of public schools. In the first year of Ohio’s new EdChoice voucher program, the report claims to have found substantial academic gains at public schools exposed to the possibility of losing students to vouchers. Despite being presented as scientifically rigorous, the report suffers from serious methodological shortcomings. The analysis uses weak variables and an incorrect approach to measuring academic gains and tries to make claims based on cherry-picking uneven results. Moreover, even accepting the study’s analysis, it produces a finding very much at odds with the author’s intent: that vouchers are not likely to close the achievement gap between high- and low-performing schools.

Suggested Citation: Lubienski, C. (2008). Review of “Promising Start: An Empirical Analysis of How EdChoice Vouchers Affect Ohio Public Schools.” Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Retrieved [date] from http://epicpolicy.org/thinktank/review-promising-start

Document Reviewed:

Promising Start: An Empirical Analysis of How EdChoice Vouchers Affect Ohio Public Schools

Greg Forster
Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice