Vouchers, Public School Response, and the Role of Incentives: Evidence from Florida

By Chakrabarti, Rajashri | Economic Inquiry, January 2013 | Go to article overview

Vouchers, Public School Response, and the Role of Incentives: Evidence from Florida


Chakrabarti, Rajashri, Economic Inquiry


I. INTRODUCTION

The concern over public school performance in the last two decades has pushed public school reform to the forefront of policy debate in the United States. School accountability and school choice, and especially vouchers, are among the most hotly debated instruments of public school reform. Understanding the behavior and response of public schools facing these initiatives is key to an effective policy design. This paper takes an important step forward in that direction by analyzing public school behavior under the Florida voucher program.

The Florida voucher program, known as the "opportunity scholarship" program, is unique in that it embeds a voucher program within a school accountability system. Moreover, the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act is similar to and largely modeled after the Florida program, which makes the latter all the more interesting and relevant. Much of the literature studying the effect of voucher programs on public schools has looked at the effect on student and mean school scores. In contrast, this study tries to go inside the black box to investigate some of the ways in which schools facing the voucher program behaved in the first 3 years after the program. (1) Exploiting the institutional details of the Florida program during this period, it analyzes the incentives built into the system, and investigates public school behavior and response facing these incentives.

The Florida voucher program, written into law in June 1999, made all students of a school eligible for vouchers to move to private or higher performing public schools if the school got two "F" grades in a period of 4 years. Thus, the program can be looked upon as a "threat of voucher" program--schools getting an "F" grade for the first time were directly threatened by vouchers, but vouchers were implemented only if they got another "F" grade in the next 3 years. Vouchers were always associated with a loss in revenue and also media publicity and visibility. Moreover, the "F" grade, being the lowest performing grade, was likely associated with shame and stigma. Therefore, the threatened schools had a strong incentive to try to avoid the second "F." (2) This paper studies some alternative ways in which the threatened schools responded, facing the incentives built into the system.

Under the 1999 Florida grading criteria, certain percentages of a school's students had to score above some specified cutoffs on the score scale for it to escape the second "F." Therefore the threatened schools had an incentive to focus more on students expected to score just below these high stakes cutoffs rather than equally on all students. Did this take place in practice? Second, to escape an F grade, the schools needed to pass the minimum criteria in only one of the three subject areas of reading, math, and writing. Did this induce the threatened schools to concentrate more on one subject, rather than equally on all? If so, which subject area did the schools choose to concentrate on? One alternative would be to concentrate on the subject area closest to the cutoff. (3) But subject areas differ in the extent of difficulties, so it is not immediately obvious that it is easiest to pass the cutoff in the subject area closest to the cutoff. Rather, schools are likely to weigh the extent of difficulties of the different subjects and their distances from the cutoffs, and choose the subject that is least costly to pass the cutoff. In addition to analyzing the above questions, this study also tries to look at a broader picture. If the threatened schools concentrated on students expected to score just below the high stakes cutoffs, did their improvements come at the expense of higher performing ones?

Using highly disaggregated school-level Florida data from 1993 through 2002, and a difference-in-differences analysis as well as a regression discontinuity (RD) analysis, I investigate the above issues. The schools that received the first "F" grade in 1999 were directly threatened and hence constitute my treated group of schools. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Vouchers, Public School Response, and the Role of Incentives: Evidence from Florida
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.