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School vouchers, school choice, student achievement, randomized control trial


The Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP) offers publicly-funded vouchers to students in low-performing schools with family income no greater than 250 percent of the poverty line, allowing them to enroll in participating private schools. Established in 2008 as a pilot program in New Orleans, the LSP was expanded statewide in 2012. This report examines the experimental effects of using an LSP scholarship to enroll in one’s first choice private school on student achievement in the three years following the program’s expansion. Large negative achievement effects in the first year of the program appear to have been followed by improvement in the second and third years. Based on our primary analytic sample, the effects of the LSP on English Language Arts (ELA) are positive and math are negative in Year 3, but neither is statistically significant. These results are partially reflective of declining statistical power and appear to be influenced by the return of students to public schools for whom the program was not working. Subgroup analyses indicate that students with lower ELA scores at baseline realized statistically significant achievement gains in ELA from the program, while students applying to the earlier elementary grades experienced large achievement losses from the program in math.