Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Voucher Policies and the Responses of Three Actors: Parents, Private Schools, and Public Schools
by Hart, Cassandra Marie Doll, Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2011, 313; 3456562
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines how three types of actors—parents, private schools and public schools—respond to the implementation of a voucher program, the means-tested Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program.

The first study uses t-tests to describe individual characteristics and characteristics of children’s public school and private school market contexts that predict application for, and take-up of, a voucher among elementary school-aged children observed in public schools in the 2007-08 school-year. I use data from a wide variety of sources, including microdata on individual student characteristics and administrative and survey data on public and private schools. Compared to eligible non-applicants, applicants disproportionately come from low-performing, more disruptive public schools. They face more competitive private school markets from the perspective of proximity, but their proximate private school options are of lower average parent-rated quality than are non-applicants’.

The second study uses data from the Private School Universe Survey and an interrupted time series design with a comparison group to explore whether Florida’s private school market supply expanded due to the policy introduction. While Florida’s private school sector grew more quickly than did other states’ following the policy introduction, this was simply a continuation of pre-existing trends rather than a causal effect of the policy; there may have been a heightened response for certain types of schools.

The third study examines the effect of competitive pressure on public school students’ test performance. This chapter uses a difference-in-differences estimation strategy on microdata from all students in Florida from 1998-1999 to 2006-2007. We find positive effects of competition on public school student test scores; these effects are more pronounced for certain types of schools and grow over time.

The final study extends this work by looking at instructional and staffing policy changes by schools in response to competitive pressure. This study uses a difference-in-differences strategy on survey data from a census of Florida principals and administrative data. I find that competitive pressure is positively associated with introducing scheduling reforms, and somewhat negatively related to the formal teaching qualifications of a school’s staff.

These studies together paint a modestly sanguine view of Florida’s means-tested voucher policy.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Figlio, David N.
Commitee: Cook, Thomas D., Duncan, Greg J., Hedges, Larry V.
School: Northwestern University
Department: Social Policy to Education and Social Policy - Human Development and Social Policy
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 72/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education finance, Education Policy, Public policy
Keywords: Education finance, Education policy, Private schools, School choice, School vouchers, Vouchers
Publication Number: 3456562
ISBN: 978-1-124-66129-2
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