Understanding How Universal Vouchers Have Impacted Urban School Districts’ Enrollment in Chile


  • Jaime Portales University of Texas at Austin
  • Julian Vasquez Heilig University of Texas at Austin




Vouchers, school choice, Chile, urban education, privatization


Findings from this study show that educational and mobility opportunities for families and students participating in the Chilean voucher system are not homogenously distributed. Some families and students use and benefit from the system, while others will remain marginalized. The quantitative results in this study demonstrate that students of relatively higher SES living in mid-high or mid-low poverty districts receive the benefit from vouchers. These students may move from one public school to another, from a public school to private-voucher school in the same area, from one district to another, or from a public school in an area to a private-voucher school in another district. Meanwhile, low-income counterparts living in high-poverty areas are excluded from the system and tend to remain at their public neighborhood school.


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Author Biographies

Jaime Portales, University of Texas at Austin

Jaime Portales is a policy advisor and researcher working at the Ministry of Education of Chile. He has a Ph.D. on Education Policy and Planning from the University of Texas at Austin. His areas of research and expertise refer to education policy implementation analysis, the development of school improvement initiatives at the district and school levels, and school choice effects on educational systems.

Julian Vasquez Heilig, University of Texas at Austin

Julian Vasquez Heilig is an award-winning researcher and teacher. He is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Mexican American Studies and the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Since 2007, he has served as an Associate Director for the University Council of Education Administration (UCEA).

In addition to educational accomplishments, Julian Vasquez Heilig has held a variety of research and practitioner positions in organizations from Boston to Beijing. These experiences have provided formative professional perspectives to bridge research, theory, and practice.

His current research includes quantitatively examining how high-stakes testing and accountability-based reforms and incentive systems impact urban minority students. Additionally, his qualitative work considers the mechanisms by which student achievement and progress occur in relation to specific NCLB-inspired accountability policies in districts and schools for students of different kinds. Julian's research interests also include issues of access, diversity and equity in higher education.

His work has been cited by the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, Education Week, and other print and electronic media outlets. He has also appeared on local and national radio and TV including PBS, NBCLatino, NPR, and MSNBC.

He obtained his Ph.D. in Education Administration and Policy Analysis and a Masters in Sociology from Stanford University. He also holds a Masters of Higher Education and a Bachelor's of History and Psychology from the University of Michigan.




How to Cite

Portales, J., & Vasquez Heilig, J. (2014). Understanding How Universal Vouchers Have Impacted Urban School Districts’ Enrollment in Chile. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 22, 72. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v22n72.2014