New Report Examines 100 Empirical Studies of School Choice Programs

Paid Post: Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

As school choice programs in the states expand, researchers look to empirical evidence to find out whether they are working.

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice recently published a report that analyzes rigorous, empirical studies on the effects of school choice programs. The report—A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on School Choice—synthesizes the results of 100 empirical studies conducted by various researchers and organizations over the past 20 years, including the U.S. Department of Education, Harvard, and more. Of those studies, 87 find positive effects for students, schools and taxpayers. Ten studies show no statistically significant effect, and only three studies find school choice had any negative effects.

Click here for the full A Win-Win Solution report and more educational choice resources.

This report, which is the fourth edition published by the Friedman Foundation, specifically examines the body of research to answer five essential questions:

  • How does school choice affect the academic outcomes of program participants?
  • How does educational choice affect nearby public schools?
  • Do school choice programs cost or save taxpayers money?
  • What is the effect of school choice on racial segregation in public and private schools?
  • How do private schools affect school choice participants’ civic values?

In each of these key areas, the evidence shows overwhelmingly that school choice has a positive effect. Private school choice programs, such as school vouchers and education savings accounts, benefit both program participants and nearby public schools. Such programs also save taxpayers money, sometimes thousands of dollars per participant. School choice helps integrate both public and private schools. And participants in school choice programs are more tolerant of the rights of others and more likely to be civically involved.

“Our first edition of the Win-Win report included 19 studies; this time around, we were able to look at 100,” said Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation. “Every year, we see more and more empirical research that points to the same conclusion: If well-designed, school choice programs work.”

Though the research is overwhelmingly in favor of positive outcomes for educational choice policies, this synthesis is the first to include instances where choice programs caused declines in student performance. The two studies with negative results, both released this year, looked at the same school choice program: the Louisiana Scholarship Program. The studies find slight test score declines in students’ first year of participation but academic improvement in the second year.

“Looking at what isn’t working well—and figuring out why—is an important part of our work,” Enlow said. “Educational choice forces us to pursue innovation and opportunity, and we’re committed to improving programs to make sure they’re working well for students.”

Despite these two studies with negative findings, it’s clear from the bulk of the evidence: School choice works for students, schools and communities.

To find out more about what the research says about the five key questions mentioned above, download the report at

The editorial staff of Youth Today had no role in this post's preparation.