Date of Graduation

8-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education Policy (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Education Reform

Advisor

Patrick Wolf

Committee Member

Jay Greene

Second Committee Member

Robert Costrell

Keywords

Competition, Education, Government Policy

Abstract

This dissertation examines the systemic effects of private school choice in the context of two statewide, means-tested school voucher programs-- the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program (ICSP) and the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP). Specifically, I examine public school responses to private school competition from the ICSP and the LSP and the direct impacts of the LSP on racial stratification in public and private schools. In Louisiana, I show that the lowest-graded public schools had a modest, statistically significant, positive response to the injection of competition, with impacts ranging from .001 to .06 SD. In Indiana, the evidence is slightly weaker. In math, none of the four competition measures are significantly related to school-average performance whereas in English Language Arts, three out of eight results provide evidence of a statistically significant, positive competitive effect. Depending on the radius selected, a one-unit increase in the concentration measure (a modified Herfindahl Index) is associated with a .04 to .05 SD increase in school-average ELA achievement. Regarding racial stratification in Louisiana's schools, I show that LSP transfers reduce racial stratification in the voucher students' former public schools, but marginally increase racial stratification in the private schools. Specifically, 82% of all student transfers reduce racial stratification in the traditional public schools, compared to 45% in private schools. Overall, the articles presented in this dissertation demonstrate that private school choice programs have null to modest positive impacts on the students who remain in public schools. Given that traditional public schools are and will continue to be the primary provider of educational services in K-12, this is good news for public school students in states with expanding private school choice programs.

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