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How Has the Louisiana Scholarship Program Affected Students? A Comprehensive Summary of Effects after Three Years

A policy brief by Jonathan N. Mills and Patrick J. Wolf summarizing three accompanying technical reports that 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.

Policy Brief Cover

How Has the Louisiana Scholarship Program Affected Students? A Comprehensive Summary of Effects after Three Years

Published

School choice reforms comprise a broad category of policies aimed at improving public education through the introduction of market forces that expand customer choice and competition between schools. Here, we summarize our research to date on the effects of a large statewide school voucher initiative, the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP), and draw the following conclusions:

  • Overall, participating in the LSP had no statistically significant impact on student English Language Arts (ELA) or math scores after using an LSP scholarship for three years.
  • The subgroup of students who were lower achieving before applying to the program did show significant gains in ELA after three years of scholarship usage. Students applying to lower grades demonstrated significant losses in math.
  • Students without disabilities were less likely to be identified to receive special education services if they participated in the LSP than if they did not. Students with disabilities were more likely to be de-identified as requiring special education services if they participated in the private school choice program.
  • The private schools that chose to participate in the LSP were disproportionately Catholic, had low tuitions, had low enrollments, and served a high percentage of minority students.

We discuss these findings in the brief and in greater detail in the three accompanying technical reports that analyze the program’s impact on student achievement, students’ identification to receive special education services, and school participation. Combined with prior evidence, these results are informative about the specific design of voucher and other choice policies and about how the effects of choice evolve over time as programs mature.

Click here to watch the video from our release event at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C.