Schools and Student Achievement: More Evidence From the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program


In this paper I review the existing evaluations of the effect of the Milwaukee Parental Choice
Program on student achievement. Two of the three existing papers report significant gains in math for the
choice students and two of the three studies report no significant effects in reading. I also extend the analysis
to compare the achievement of students in the choice schools to students in three different types of public
schools: regular attendance area schools, city-wide (or magnet) schools, and attendance area schools with
small class sizes and supplemental funding from the state of Wisconsin (“P-5” schools). The results suggest
that students in P-5 schools have similar math test score gains to those in the choice schools, and students
in the P-5 schools outperform students in the choice schools in reading. In contrast, students in the city-wide
schools score no differently than students in the regular attendance area schools in both math and reading.
Given that the pupil-teacher ratios in the P-5 and choice schools are significantly smaller than those in the
other public schools, one potential explanation for these results is that students perform well in schools with
smaller class sizes.

Year of Publication
Date Published
Publication Language
Citation Key
The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 113, No. 2, May, 1998
Working Papers