Students using private school vouchers in Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program performed more poorly in mathematics in the first two years after moving school than their peers in public school, according to a study by Joseph Waddington (University of Kentucky) and Mark Berends (University of Notre Dame). However, from the third year onward, mathematics scores improved. For English language arts, the researchers found no statistically significant effects, except that students entering Catholic school had marginal gains in scores. Voucher students with a special education designation have average annual losses in ELA scores.
The study looked at students from grade 3 to 8 in the voucher program and compared them to similar students in public school. The score average increases in year three and four were procured from the small sample size of students who stayed in the private schools. Albeit preliminary due to the limited time scope and assessment data available, the study does provide some intriguing insight into the impact of a school voucher system.