What's in Your Portfolio? How Parents Rank Traditional Public, Private, and Charter Schools in Post-Katrina New Orleans’ Citywide System of School Choice

Jane A. Lincove, Joshua M. Cowen, Jason P. Imbrogno
  • Education Finance and Policy, March 2018, The MIT Press
  • DOI: 10.1162/edfp_a_00222

What Characteristics Help Public Schools Compete with Private Schools in a School Choice System?

What is it about?

School choice lotteries provide information about the types of schools parents prefer. We use a unique school lottery in Louisiana to measure parents preferences for charter and private voucher schools relative to traditional public schools.

Why is it important?

Voucher programs are intended to improve public school systems through productive competition for students. We test whether voucher-eligible parents actually consider public and private options, and if so, what characteristics help public schools attract enrollment. We find that parents who apply for vouchers often also rank public school options higher than voucher schools. Public schools with higher school performance scores and preferred locations are preferred by these parents. Public schools do not attract these parents with special curricular or extracurricular programs.


Jane Lincove (Author)
University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions

Our results suggest that private schools are generally preferred by voucher applicants, but public schools can compete for students if they have excellent academic performance.

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