Newswise — After analyzing data on more than 2,000 students, and making statistical adjustments for students' prior ability and time spent at a private school, Clive R. Belfield, Associate Director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, has found no academic benefits for voucher users in second and fourth grade students in The Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring program. Though it is the second oldest such program in the U.S., it has not received much attention from researchers.

Perhaps most importantly, there are no observed gains for African-American students. This finding refutes previous research, which has suggested that African-Americans benefit uniquely from voucher programs. The only consistent finding is that voucher users score lower in math than the public school comparison group.

This analysis updates educational voucher research in three ways. First, seminal works in the study of vouchers are now dated. Commonly cited evidence in other studies refers to evaluations that occurred over a decade ago, at a time when religious schools were not allowed to participate. Second, more recent analyses have focused on voucher programs that target failing schools rather than low-income students. Third, Ohio has recently enacted a statewide voucher program. Thus, the performance of voucher students in Cleveland has particular pertinence when considering this decision.

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