University of Arkansas study: The School Choice Voucher: A “Get Out of Jail” Card?

10 Mar

Moi has posted quite a bit about vouchers. Moi discussed vouchers as one element of school choice in Given school choice, many students thrive:

The Center for Education Reform defines School Choice:

The term “school choice” means giving parents the power and opportunity to choose the school their child will attend. Traditionally, children are assigned to a public school according to where they live. People of means already have school choice, because they can afford to move to an area according to the schools available (i.e. where the quality of public schools is high), or they can choose to enroll their child in a private school. Parents without such means, until recently, generally had no choice of school, and had to send their child to the school assigned to them by the district, regardless of the school’s quality or appropriateness for their child.

School choice means better educational opportunity, because it uses the dynamics of consumer opportunity and provider competition to drive service quality. This principle is found anywhere you look, from cars to colleges and universities, but it’s largely absent in our public school system and the poor results are evident, especially in the centers of American culture – our cities. School choice programs foster parental involvement and high expectations by giving parents the option to educate their children as they see fit. It re-asserts the rights of the parent and the best interests of child over the convenience of the system, infuses accountability and quality into the system, and provides educational opportunity where none existed before.

Many school choice issues are also discussed in the school choice section.

School Choices has information about School Vouchers

The Brookings Institute (Brookings) released the report, The Effects of School Vouchers on College Enrollment: Experimental Evidence from New York City.  See also, Vouchers Help African American Students Go to College    and New Research on the Impact of Vouchers

The University of Arkansas released How Has the Louisiana Scholarship Program Affected Students?

Posted by UArk Dept. of Ed. Reform – February 19, 2016 – LSP-Y2, SCDP, SCDP and a policy paper which examined the Milwaukee voucher program was part of the research project.

Ameila Hamilton wrote in A new paper looks at school vouchers and lower crime rates:

School choice is frequently hailed as a way to change the trajectories of lives in ways that will resonate for generations. While this is certainly true in terms of the educational achievement that leads to college, employment and the social mobility those bring, a new study is taking a look at how school choice also reduces crime.

In the past, families with the financial means to pay for private school have always had school choice. School vouchers are one way to expand choice to those without such advantages, by providing tuition assistance to students who could otherwise not afford it.

Wisconsin has one such program and The School Choice Voucher: A “Get Out of Jail” Card?, a paper released Tuesday by the University of Arkansas, examines crime rates in Milwaukee among students in voucher programs compared to students in traditional public schools. The study was conducted by Corey DeAngelis, a doctoral student in education policy, and Patrick J. Wolf, professor and 21st Century Chair in School Choice at the University of Arkansas.

It found that, not only do crime rates decline among students who participate in voucher programs, they continue to decline the longer a student is enrolled. “We conclude,” the paper says, “that merely being exposed to private schooling for a short time through a voucher program may not have a significant impact on criminal activity, though persistently attending a private school through a voucher program can decrease subsequent criminal activity, especially for males.”

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) is the longest-running school choice program in the country, giving researchers the most data possible….                                                      

See, School Voucher Program Students Commit Fewer Crimes, Study Suggests,


The School Choice Voucher: A ‘Get Out of Jail’ Card?
Source: Corey DeAngelis, Patrick J. Wolf,EDRE Working Paper No. 2016-01, January 6, 2016

In this article we examine crime rates for students in Milwaukee’s citywide voucher program and a comparable group of public school students. Using unique data collected as part of a state-mandated evaluation of the program, we consider criminal activity by students initially exposed to voucher schools and those in public schools at the same time. We also consider criminal activity by students that stayed in the voucher program through 12th grade compared to those who were in public schools at the same time. We show that the mere exposure to private schooling through a voucher is associated with lower rates of criminal activity but the relationship is not robust to different analytic samples or measures of crime. We find a more consistent statistically significant negative relationship between students that stayed in the voucher program through 12th grade and criminal activity (meaning persistent voucher students commit fewer crimes). These results are apparent when controlling for student demographics, test scores, and parental characteristics. We conclude that merely being exposed to private schooling for a short time through a voucher program may not have a significant impact on criminal activity, though persistence in a voucher program can decrease subsequent criminal activity.

– See more at:

Here is the press release from the University of Arkansas:

Study Finds Connection Between School Voucher Use, Lower Crime Rates

March 08, 2016

An evaluation by University of Arkansas researchers of a Milwaukee school voucher program found that students who used the vouchers to attend a private high school were less likely to commit crimes than comparable students who attended Milwaukee public schools.

Corey DeAngelis, a doctoral student in education policy, and Patrick J. Wolf, who holds the Twenty-First Century Chair in School Choice, describe the results of the analysis in their paper titled “The School Choice Voucher: A ‘Get Out of Jail’ Card?” They presented the paper in January at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The School Choice Demonstration Project based at the U of A and directed by Wolf has conducted several previous studies of the Milwaukee program, looking at student achievement, high school graduation rates, college enrollment rates, promotion of civic values and parental satisfaction and views of safety.

Schools also can be thought of as social institutions that aim to improve the non-cognitive skills of students, according to the paper, and the combination of academic achievement and non-cognitive advancement of students can lead to better life outcomes as measured by lifetime earnings, employment and citizenship. In the current study, citizenship of a given student was evaluated by looking at criminal activity as adults.

DeAngelis and Wolf used data from the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program to conduct the first analysis of the effect of a private school choice program on the criminal behavior of young adults. Milwaukee’s is the first urban publicly funded tuition voucher system, launched in 1990, and currently enrolls more than 27,000 students in more than 110 private schools.

The researchers matched students using the voucher with students in public schools using data on grade, neighborhood, race, gender, English language learner status, and math and reading tests. They also controlled for family characteristics such as income, family composition and parental education. They used the Wisconsin Court System Circuit Court Access system to search for cases involving former students who had been in the program during a longitudinal study from 2006 to 2011 and were 22 to 25 years old during the criminal database search.

The results indicated that using a voucher to attend private school reduces the likelihood of a student committing a misdemeanor as a young adult by 5 to 7 percentage points, or committing a felony by 3 percentage points, and of being accused of any crime by 5 to 12 percentage points. The effects of the voucher program on reducing crime rates are especially clear and large for men, who commit more crimes than do women.

The complete study can be found on the School Choice Demonstration Project website.

  • Contacts

  • Heidi Stambuck, director of communications College of Education and Health Professions 479-575-3138,

There is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is only what works to produce academic achievement in each population of children. That is why school choice is so important. Moi does not have the dread of a well-defined voucher program targeted at at-risk children. The tax credit program is entirely a horse of a different color and should be discouraged.


What is the Indiana voucher program?                                                                 

Are tax credits disguised vouchers?                                                                       

University of Arkansas study finds Milwaukee voucher students go to college at higher rate

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