School Choice in New York City After Three Years: An Evaluation of the School Choice Scholarships Program

Daniel P. Mayer, Paul E. Peterson, David E. Myers, Christina Clark Tuttle and William G. Howell
Year of publication: 
February 2002
PEPG 02-01

In 1997, the School Choice Scholarships Foundation (SCSF) announced that it would provide 1,300 scholarships so that children of low-income families in grades K–4 in the New York City public schools could transfer to private schools. Each scholarship, or “voucher,” was worth up to $1,400 annually and could be used for up to four years at a religious or a secular school. The SCSF received applications from more than 20,000 students from February through April 1997. From the pool of applicants, scholarship recipients were selected in a lottery held in May 1997.

This report presents the third-year findings from an evaluation of the SCSF program in which students were randomly assigned to a treatment group (scholarship group) or a control group. The evaluation findings are particularly relevant to the current national debate about the impacts of vouchers on students and parents—especially in that the SCSF program is one of the largest of the current voucher programs in terms of enrollment and has yielded results for a racially and ethnically diverse population of low-income students. Similar randomized field trials of school voucher programs have been conducted in Dayton, Ohio, and in Washington, D.C. This summary highlights the key evaluation findings and briefly describes the study.