private school vouchers


In 1990, Wisconsin became the first state in the country to provide vouchers to low income
students to attend non-sectarian private schools. In this paper, I use a variety of estimation strategies
and samples to estimate the effect of the program on math and reading scores. First, since schools
selected students randomly from among their applicants if the school was oversubscribed, I compare
the academic achievement of students who were selected to those who were not selected. Second,
I present instrumental variables estimates of the effectiveness of private schools (relative to public
schools) using the initial selection as an instrumental variable for attendance at a private school.
Finally, I used a fixed-effects strategy to compare students enrolled in the private schools to a sample
of students from the Milwaukee public schools. I find that the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program
appears to have had a positive effect on the math achievement of those who attended a private
school; but had no benefits for reading scores. I have found the results to be fairly robust to data
imputations and sample attrition, however these limitations should be kept in mind when
interpreting the results.

Year of Publication
Date Published
Publication Language
Citation Key
Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 113, No. 2, May 1998
Rouse, C. (1996). Private School Vouchers and Student Achievement: An Evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Retrieved from (Original work published December 1996)
Working Papers