Carlson, Deven E., & Cowen, Joshua M.
School Vouchers and Student Neighborhoods: Evidence from the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program
University of Oklahoma; Michigan State University
1) Do voucher schools disproportionately draw students from better public schools and city neighborhoods, or do they draw students most in need of alternative options? 2) Are public schools attended by students in neighborhoods contributing large numbers of students to the voucher program more or less effective than those attended by students in neighborhoods with fewer voucher students? 3) Are voucher students located in city neighborhoods that directly contribute more or less to student outcomes? 4) What are the school and neighborhood contexts of students returning to the public sector?
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Educational Policy Analysis Archives
Vol. 23, No. 60, Pp. 1-27
- Neighborhoods without MPCP participation tend to be those whose children attend higher average quality public schools, and those with higher direct neighborhood effects suggesting that the voucher program draws more heavily from neighborhoods where academic resources in the public sector are scarcer.
- Lower performing students and African American students are more likely to leave the voucher program.
- Neighborhoods with higher academic quality contribute fewer students to the MPCP; neighborhoods with students attending higher quality public schools contribute fewer as well.
- Although the voucher program appears to serve a relatively disadvantaged population with respect to the public school students in the city as a whole, the students who are able to make the MPCP into a viable alternative to public schools may be comparably better off with respect to other voucher participants themselves.
- A primary contribution of this paper is to demonstrate that neighborhoods with the highest rates of voucher participation are generally those with particularly disadvantaged residential populations. On a variety of measures – race, income and family structure among them – the program draws from precisely those neighborhoods one would expect in a scenario in which the MPCP was serving residents most in need.
- In considering who makes use of a school choice program, policymakers should pay at least as much attention to who continues to participate as well.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Choice, Neighborhood, Segregation, Social Mobility, Vouchers
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
Descriptive Statistics, Logistic Regression, Multilevel Models
Students in Milwaukee Public Schools elementary and middle schools
Unit of Analysis:
Neighborhood, School, Student
- This study provides detailed information on a representative panel of more than 2,500 Milwaukee Parental Choice program (MPCP) voucher using students drawn from the nearly 20,000 students participating in the program citywide during the evaluation years.
- Students achievement on state exam standardized by district mean and standard deviation for the proper, year, grade, and subject for student, attending a school, and living in a neighborhood at a time.
- Probability that a student transfers out of the voucher program and returns to MPS after a time.
- School academic quality measures, neighborhood reading, neighborhood math, neighborhood school reading, neighborhood school math, reading, math, African American, Hispanic, Asian, female, etc...