Review: Brookings Study Does Not Support Claim That Vouchers Boosted College Enrollment
EAST LANSING, Mich. (Sept. 13, 2012) – A recent Brookings Institution report that looked at college enrollment rates of students attending voucher schools in New York City acknowledged no overall impacts of the vouchers on college attendance, but its authors trumpeted large, positive impacts for a subgroup of the voucher students: African Americans.
The report, The Effects of School Vouchers on College Enrollment: Experimental Evidence from New York City, was written by Matthew Chingos and Paul Peterson and published jointly by Brookings and by the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard.
Sara Goldrick-Rab, University of Wisconsin-Madison, reviewed the report for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review was produced by the National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The report examines college enrollment rates of students participating in an experimental voucher program in New York City, which in the spring of 1997 offered 3-year scholarships worth up to $1,400 annually to low-income families.
In her review, Goldrick-Rab questions the claim of a strong positive impact for a single subgroup of students. She observes that the study identifies no overall impacts of the voucher offer, but that the authors "report and emphasize large positive impacts for African American students, including increases in college attendance, full-time enrollment, and attendance at private, selective institutions of higher education." This strong focus is not warranted.
Goldrick-Rab notes four problems:
"Contrary to the report's claim, the evidence presented suggests that in this New York City program, school vouchers did not improve college enrollment rates among all students or even among a selected subgroup of students," Goldrick-Rab writes.
Goldrick-Rab concludes that the report "convincingly demonstrates that in New York City a private voucher program failed to increase the college enrollment rates of students from low-income families."
Find Sara Goldrick-Rab's review on the Great Lakes Center website at:
Find The Effects of School Vouchers on College Enrollment: Experimental Evidence from New York City, by Matthew M. Chingos and Paul E. Peterson on the web at:
Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policy makers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The review is also available on the National Education Policy Center website at:
The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.
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