Unintended Consequences of Regulating Private School Choice Programs: A Review of the Evidence

from the book Regulation and Economic Opportunity: Blueprints for Reform

Executive Summary

The number of private school choice options has continued to grow ever since 1990. Today, 65 private school choice programs are in operation in 29 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In this chapter, education policy experts Dr. Corey A. DeAngelis and Dr. Lindsey M. Burke review the evidence on the effects of school choice programs that give families wider options to move between schools. Overall, they conclude that school choice programs work well and, on balance, that increasing the regulatory burden carried by school choice programs sometimes results in lower participation rates and lower quality of private schooling. They conclude that:

  • Regulators should approach private schooling programs with targeted rules to alleviate demonstrated failures that avoid unintended consequences.
  • Policymakers considering reforms should avoid intrusive regulations that discourage specialization among private schools.
  • Requiring randomized admissions or requiring that private schools administer standardized tests may explain cases where private voucher programs fail to meet or exceed the results that public schools create.
CGO scholars and fellows frequently comment on a variety of topics for the popular press. The views expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Growth and Opportunity or the views of Utah State University.