Lecture 10 - PAM 3300: The NYC Voucher Study (cont) School...

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PAM 3300: The NYC Voucher Study (cont)
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School Vouchers: For and against Advocates say that vouchers (school choice): education most aligned with their needs/preferences. “Poor parents should have same opportunity to choose which school their child will attend.” Private schools are better at raising achievement of students. Competition for students will lead all schools to improve their ‘product’. Critics: Partial subsidies are only a benefit to relatively wealthy students - equity issues Excess demand allows private schools to admit only the most promising students: cream skimming Weakens public education by removing the better students and the more involved parents Since most private schools are religious, this amounts to state funding of religion. Privatization decreases government oversight and accountability.
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Research Background Observational studies of private schools and magnet schools have found that students attending such schools experience better educational outcomes. Studies have also found benefits associated with attending Catholic schools. A causal interpretation of these findings may not be appropriate - why? Milwaukee voucher experiment (an RCT) compromised by attrition: less than 1/2 of unsuccessful applicants for vouchers returned to public schools; those who did were differentially poor.
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NYC Voucher Study Research Design (1) SCSF received 20,000+ applications between 2/97 and 4/97 To be eligible, children must: Be entering grades 1-5 Living in NYC Attending public school at time of application Be eligible for free lunch (family income < poverty line) Attend verification session to document family income There were 11,105 eligible applicants Mathematica (a policy research evaluation firm) randomly chose 1,000 families to win the scholarships, and 960 families to follow-up in a control group.
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NYC Voucher Study Research Design (2) Randomly chosen winners (1,374 children) were offered a $1,400 scholarship (per child, per year) before the 1997-1998 school year Student outcomes were measured in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year following random assignment. Outcomes included: Private school attendance Standardized test scores for math and reading School environment, parental satisfaction and involvement
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Main Treatment Families are chosen at random to receive a voucher 78% of those offered a scholarship attended private school at least 1 year of the following 3 (53% for all 3 years). Reasons for not attending a private school included: Couldn’t afford tuition and expenses not covered by voucher (45%) Couldn’t find a school in a convenient location (33%) Special needs of their child not met by private schools (14%) Estimating the causal effect of attending a private school is thus harder … why?
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Comparison of Scholarship Takers and ‘Decliners’
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This note was uploaded on 03/28/2009 for the course PAM 3300 taught by Professor Matsudaira during the Spring '08 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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Lecture 10 - PAM 3300: The NYC Voucher Study (cont) School...

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