Study Shows Ohio Vouchers are Disaster for Students

The Fordham Foundation, a Corporate Education reform organization, performed a study of Ohio's EdChoice voucher program. It looks like they didn't get the result they were expecting.

Those eligible students (coming from these relatively high-performing public schools) who attend private schools appear to fare considerably worse than we predict that they would have performed had they remained in the public schools.

In order to preserve the figment that vouchers are a net positive, the report spins that the existence of vouchers causes competition which is why traditional public schools are so much better. Why competition isn't working in the other direction is left a mystery, until you dig into the poorly written report (its poorly written we suspect in order to hide the damaging findings) and realize their excuse of "competition" isn't actually supported by their own study

Taken together, the results of this report present a mixed bag of findings regarding the EdChoice voucher program. Although the evidence is not completely unambiguous, the weight of the evidence indicates that EdChoice eligibility improved reading and mathematics outcomes for the students affected. We suspect that this is coming through increased competition for lower-ranked public schools as well as a desire for these schools to improve to avoid losing students to the voucher program; we suspect that the competition is a leading explanation rather than merely avoidance of grading stigma because the regression-discontinuity approaches focusing on the second-best PI are designed to concentrate particularly on the voucher-eligibility component of the system, rather than on the school ratings themselves. 


  • The evidence is overwhelming that traditional schools are better than private voucher schools.
  • The only students positively affected by vouchers are students who don't use them
  • Studies should not "suspect" reasons for their results, but that's all we have

Here's a more leading explanation of why voucher schools perform worse than traditional public schools - THEY CARE MORE ABOUT PROFIT THAN STUDENTS, SO THAT'S WHERE THE RESOURCES ARE SPENT.

Another Corporate Education reform think tank, The74million, reads the report and tries to come up with 7 other excuses.

1. Blame standardized tests. Only now these tests, which corporate education reformers pushed, are a bad measure of school quality. Laughable.

2. It's the specific test. Apparently voucher schools don't hold their students accountable enough. Where's their "grit"?

3. It's early. We hearing this over and over. We just need more time. Sadly, much of the data in the Fordham study comes from 2008 - almost a decade of failure now. Time isn't the problem.

4. Over-regulation. If over-regulation of voucher schools is what is holding them back, how do traditional schools, which have far more regulation keep beating them handily?

5. Public schools have gotten better. Nice of them to say so, but perhaps public schools were never causing a national crisis to begin with, but it's hard to privatize something that's consistently good.

6. Under-regulation. Hard to argue here. Parents should know they are getting a bad deal for their child when the apply for an EdChoice voucher. More transparency would be great.

7. The concept itself. Ding, ding, ding. 

Vouchers, much like most charters in Ohio are not designed to help the students, they are designed to help people make money. We suspect a study of that would be very demonstrable.