According to recent studies public schools are receiving less funding than they did ten years ago and students using vouchers experienced a slightly negative impact on standardized tests. Of the 15 states currently using a voucher program Indiana’s is the largest in the nation.
The Ball State Center for Business and Economic Research study found, “aggregate spending on primary and secondary education in Indiana decreased by more than $88 million — or about 1 percent of the state’s general fund spending on education — in the 2019-20 school year due to school choice.”
It was discovered that the reduction in spending came primarily from students enrolling in public schools other than the districts where they lived. The majority of those students transferred to schools with a lower level of per-student funding.
Another study titled Impact of the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program conducted by Joseph Waddington and Mark Berends in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management showed that students transferring from public to private schools had a slight decrease in math scores and no significant change in English Language Assessments.
These results were in line with similar studies conducted on the effects of voucher programs in Louisiana and Ohio. Researchers from both studies also noted that there is very little information available on the educational effects of voucher programs across the country.
Many Indiana residents had expressed concerns about the effects of voucher programs on public schools when vouchers were first instituted in 2011 and also when they were widely expanded in 2021. Another concern was the use of public educational funds at private religious schools with religious qualifications for enrollment.
A far more negative study was written by researchers studying the D.C. voucher program. According to their introduction and summary, “How bad are school vouchers for students? Far worse than most people imagine. Indeed, according to the analysis conducted by the authors of this report, the use of school vouchers—which provide families with public dollars to spend on private schools—is equivalent to missing out on more than one-third of a year of classroom learning”