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


The debate over school vouchers continues as more states offer government dollars to fund private schooling for students as a method of improving choice and quality in K-12 education. Previous research in the charter school sector has found that special education enrollment discrepancies between charters and traditional public schools is likely due to a mixture in parental choice making, differential identification practices, and the removal of special education labels. This study is the first experimental analysis of the impact of a enrollment in a private school choice program on special education identification and de-identification. Using data for almost 2,000 students who were randomly assigned to private schools in the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP), we find no statistically significant over impact of enrollment in a student’s first choice school on being either identified or de-identified in special education. Analyzing annual trends results in lower probabilities of identification for students in the LSP in Year 2 and Year 3 of the program and higher probabilities of de-identification in Year 2.