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Vouchers Improve Academic Outcomes, Lower Ed. Costs, Report Says

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The use of voucher programs, including tax-credit scholarships and education-savings accounts, can help boost the academic performance of students making use of those programs, and improve the performance of regular schools forced to compete with the programs, argues an analysis by an organization that backs private school choice.

That report, released by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, also argues that voucher programs save taxpayers money, and create more integrated and less racially segregated school systems.

The school-choice advocacy organization reached those conclusions based on an analysis of research over the past seven years written by senior fellow Greg Forster. About 250,000 students participate in voucher programs throughout the U.S., says the report. Such private school choice programs exist in 22 states as well as the District of Columbia, according to the report.

Forster evaluated the available research regarding five trends related to school choice programs:

• the academic impact of school choice programs on students who participate in them;
• the academic impact of school choice programs on affected regular public schools;
• the fiscal impact of vouchers on taxpayers;
• the effect of school choice programs on racial segregation in schools; and
• how school choice programs impact students' civic values and practices;

In all five areas, Forster's analysis of the research concluded that school choice programs had an overall positive impact. The studies in the analysis that did not find positive impacts of school choice programs were neutral on the above-cited measures, rather than showing a negative impact.

The report follows up on a 2011 edition of the report, also written by Forster, that produced similar findings.

Critics of vouchers—one of the most divisive issues in K-12 today—are certain to be skeptical of the conclusions of the analysis. When you've had a chance to review the results, give me your view: Do the results hold up?

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