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Study: School Vouchers Have Positive Impact On Some, But Not All Disadvantaged Students

Published: Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - 5:56pm
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new study from researchers at Harvard and the University of Arkansas finds that school vouchers made a difference for some, but not all disadvantaged students.

The study looked at educational outcomes for New York minority students who are moderately and severely disadvantaged. Moderately disadvantaged students come from households with annual earnings of $13,000 or more or whose mothers had some college education. These families also tend to have a certain amount of material and cultural capital. The study found that being offered vouchers had a positive impact on these students. 

“Their chances of finishing college increased by over 50% so it had a huge positive effect," said Harvard researcher Paul Peterson. 

Vouchers offers also increased four-year degree attainment by about 50% for these students. If they actually used the voucher to enroll in a private school, their college enrollment rate increases by up to 30% and four-year degree attainment increases by nearly 70%. 

The findings were less positive for severely disadvantage students with mothers with no college education or whose families earn less than $13,000. 

“We couldn’t see that there were any benefits of the program," Peterson said. 

Peterson recommends school voucher programs engage with these students and families and identify additional resources that they can offer.


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