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Featured Policy Brief: "How Has the Louisiana Scholarship Program Affected Students? A Comprehensive Summary of Effects after Three Years"

June 26, 2017

Three studies examine the effects of the Louisiana Scholarship Program, a statewide school voucher initiative.

Released joint­ly by the School Choice Demon­stra­tion Project at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Arkansas the Edu­ca­tion Research Alliance for New Orleans at Tulane Uni­ver­si­ty, the reports ana­lyze the program’s impact on stu­dent achieve­ment, stu­dents’ iden­ti­fi­ca­tion to receive spe­cial edu­ca­tion ser­vices, and school par­tic­i­pa­tion dur­ing the initiative’s first three years. The stud­ies’ authors will present their find­ings at an event at 10:30 a.m. EST on Mon­day, June 26, at the Urban Insti­tute in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. A live web­cast of the event will be avail­able on the Urban Institute’s website. Pre­vi­ous evidence revealed that the Louisiana Schol­ar­ship Pro­gram (LSP) had large neg­a­tive effects on stu­dent out­comes in both Eng­lish and math after one year, but researchers say that by the third year, the per­for­mance of LSP schol­ar­ship users was sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sim­i­lar to their coun­ter­parts in both ELA and math. Addi­tion­al­ly, the authors’ find­ings var­ied across stu­dents. We found that the sub­group of stu­dents who were low­er achiev­ing before apply­ing to the pro­gram did show sig­nif­i­cant gains in Eng­lish three years lat­er, and LSP schol­ar­ship recip­i­ents enter­ing low­er grades demon­strat­ed sig­nif­i­cant loss­es in math,” said lead author Jonathan Mills. Researchers also found that stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties made up 13% of eli­gi­ble LSP appli­cants for the 2012 – 13 cohort (1,275 stu­dents). This pro­por­tion, as well as the dis­tri­b­u­tion of spe­cif­ic dis­abil­i­ties among LSP appli­cants, was rel­a­tive­ly sim­i­lar to Louisiana’s pop­u­la­tion of stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties. Our results are sur­pris­ing, giv­en that the LSP schol­ar­ship amount is less than the resources offered to pub­lic schools,” said author Sivan Tuch­man. We also con­clud­ed that LSP schol­ar­ship users were more like­ly to lose their spe­cial edu­ca­tion sta­tus after two years and less like­ly to be new­ly iden­ti­fied as a stu­dent with a dis­abil­i­ty by their third year in the pro­gram.” Final­ly, researchers look into the types of pri­vate schools choos­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram. Only a third of Louisiana pri­vate schools opt­ed to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram when it went statewide in 2012 – 13. Evi­dence shows par­tic­i­pat­ing pri­vate schools had low­er tuitions, low­er school enroll­ments, were more like­ly to be Catholic schools, and tend­ed to serve a larg­er pro­por­tion of minor­i­ty stu­dents than pri­vate schools who chose not to par­tic­i­pate. These reports are part of an ongo­ing eval­u­a­tion of the LSP,” said Patrick Wolf. School choice inter­ven­tions like the LSP can have a broad range of effects that often take time to devel­op. Com­pre­hen­sive eval­u­a­tion, there­fore, is key to under­stand­ing the impacts of these inter­ven­tions.” The stud­ies were authored by Jonathan N. Mills, Yujie Sude, Corey A. DeAn­ge­lis, and Patrick J. Wolf, from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Arkansas, as well as Sivan Tuch­man from the Cen­ter for Rein­vent­ing Pub­lic Edu­ca­tion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton, Bothell.