Impact of the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program: Achievement Effects for Students in Upper Elementary and Middle School

R. Joseph Waddington, Mark Berends

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


This paper examines the impact of the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program on student achievement for low-income students in upper elementary and middle school who used a voucher to transfer from public to private schools during the first four years of the program. We analyzed student-level longitudinal data from public and private schools taking the same statewide standardized assessment. Overall, voucher students experienced an average achievement loss of 0.15 SDs in mathematics during their first year of attending a private school compared with matched students who remained in a public school. This loss persisted regardless of the length of time spent in a private school. In English/Language Arts, we did not observe statistically meaningful effects. Although school vouchers aim to provide greater educational opportunities for students, the goal of improving the academic performance of low-income students who use a voucher to move to a private school has not yet been realized in Indiana.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-808
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Policy Analysis and Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation Science of Science and Innovation Policy Program (NSF 1548288) and the Lundquist College of Business Summer Research Grant. We thank Jonathan Eyer, Jeremy Moulton, Josh Graff Zivin, Rodney Ram-charan, Jade V. M. Jenkins, and Matt Ross for their comments on earlier versions of this analysis. This paper also benefited from feedback at the 2016 Association for Public Policy and Management annual meeting and the USC Sol Price junior faculty research seminar. We are greatly indebted to our research assistants at the University of Oregon for their invaluable

Funding Information:
This paper was supported by Notre Dame's Center for Research on Educational Opportunity (CREO), Institute of Educational Initiatives, the Spencer Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. We are grateful to the Indiana Department of Education for providing access to the state administrative records and for supporting independent analyses. We are also grateful for the substantial feedback we have received from numerous colleagues over several versions of this paper, including David Agrawal, Bob Bifulco, Jo Blacketor, Ken Couch, Josh Cowen, John Elcesser, Joe Ferrare, Phil Gleason, Joshua Goodman, Doug Harris, Brian Jacob, Helen ?Sunny? Ladd, Hank Levin, Maddy Mavrogordato, Macke Raymond, Amy Ellen Schwartz, James Shuls, Erdal Tekin, Genia Toma, Patrick Wolf, Ron Zimmer, and three anonymous reviewers. All opinions expressed in this paper represent those of the authors and not necessarily the institutions with which they are affiliated. All errors in this paper are solely the responsibility of the authors. For more information, please visit the CREO website at

Funding Information:
4National Science Foundation (NSF) GRFP and National Institutes of Health (NIH) F30 provide funds directly to pre-candidacy graduate students. Students are eligible to explore innovative research without service obligations to the program. More detail on the F30 program is available at NIH offers additional options (R36 and DP5) for the student to serve as the principal investigator once they reach the candidacy stage. More commonly, however, graduate students are supported indirectly through their advisor’s laboratory grants or advisor’s training grants (e.g., NIH T32, T35, and T90/R90). The NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant awards the advisor on behalf of the student.

Funding Information:
This study examines the role of graduate training and R&D investments on research productivity by focusing on the effect of federal funding for early-career graduate students. We employ a difference-in-differences research design drawing upon a sample of high-quality life science graduate students who either are award recipients or honorable mentions of the prestigious U.S. National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program. We find that a $91,000 grant over three years has a limited, yet positive impact on the awardee’s productivity. These effects are driven by the sample of graduate students without publications prior to applying for the fellowship. ©C 2018 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (all)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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