WILL & School Choice Wisconsin Debunk Unfounded Claims Against School Choice Programs

New data shows zero negative impact on public school performance from longstanding Wisconsin School Choice programs

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), and School Choice Wisconsin (SCW), have partnered together to release a new policy brief, “Best of Both Worlds: Voucher Schools Have Little Effect on Public School Test Scores.”
The findings cast doubt on a common narrative from school choice detractors that the expansion of choice will harm public schools.
The Quotes: WILL Research Director, Will Flanders, PhD, stated, “Once again, we see that the continued growth of school choice in Wisconsin has not negatively impact public schools. In fact, the competition encourages academic improvement in the public-school sector. Enacting school choice nationwide has the potential to raise standards and the quality of education, for all schools, and the proof is in the data.”
Mike Metoff, Outreach and Research Coordinator at School Choice Wisconsin, added, “We’ve known for a long time that private choice schools provide a tremendous education to students and are a value to taxpayers—now there’s data that demonstrates public school students benefit as well. A thriving, well-funded choice infrastructure is critical for Wisconsin and will benefit students, families and communities all across the state.”
Why It Matters: As states consider expanding or creating new school choice programs, we are providing a multi-faceted look into the potential “effects” school choice has on public schools. Our findings show that public school performance has actually improved controlling for other factors in districts where school choice has expanded over recent years.
Additionally, our report comes on the heels of a new statewide, non-partisan poll of Wisconsin voters demonstrating an overwhelming bipartisan support for school choice expansion, with nearly 70% of support from voters in Milwaukee County.
Data, Methodology, and Key Findings: Our report uses extensive data from the Department of Public Instruction on choice enrollment, public school proficiency outcomes, and a host of demographic and district control variables. Here’s what we found:
  • As choice enrollment grows, public school proficiency did not decline. The Wisconsin Parental Choice Program and Racine Parental Choice Program have enjoyed significant annual growth since the programs were created, but public-school proficiency remained relatively flat, only declining in the COVID-effected school years.
  • Statistical analysis finds a positive effect of choice enrollment and reading proficiency in public schools. As the percentage of choice students in a district increases, public school ELA proficiency was found to increase as well.
  • Statistical analysis finds no decline in math proficiency. As the percentage of choice students in a district increases, public school math proficiency was not affected to a statistically significant degree.
Dig Deeper:  
Will Flanders, PHD

Will Flanders, PHD

Research Director

Share This