Stigma without Sanctions: The (Lack of) Impact of Private School Vouchers on Student Achievement


  • Daniel H. Bowen Rice University
  • Julie R. Trivitt University of Arkansas



educational vouchers, accountability, educational policy, quantitative research


Under the Florida A+ Accountability Program, Florida’s schools are graded based on student performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Previously, when schools would earn their second failing grade within four years, students assigned to these schools were offered school vouchers which parents and guardians could use to transfer students to a private or another traditional public school. In January of 2006 the Florida Supreme Court declared that private school voucher component of the Florida A+ Accountability Program was unconstitutional, eliminating the threat of having these students and funds leaving to attend private schools. This exogenous shock allows us to test whether private voucher threats and the funding tied to these students led to increases in student achievement. We find no evidence that the private school voucher threats drive academic improvement beyond what is seen in schools when this private school voucher threat is removed.


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Author Biographies

Daniel H. Bowen, Rice University

Daniel H. Bowen is a postdoctoral fellow at Rice University’s Houston Education Research Consortium. He received his PhD in education policy from the University of Arkansas in 2013. His research focuses on rigorous evaluations of educational policies and programs, teacher quality, school choice, nontraditional outcome measures in education, and noncore school subject areas. 

Julie R. Trivitt, University of Arkansas

Julie R. Trivitt is an assistant clinical professor of economics at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. She is also affiliated with the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. Her research interests include human capital acquisition, education economics, and education reform.




How to Cite

Bowen, D. H., & Trivitt, J. R. (2014). Stigma without Sanctions: The (Lack of) Impact of Private School Vouchers on Student Achievement. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 22, 87.