The New Politics and Governance of School Vouchers

Outcomes and Oversight in an Era of At-Scale Choice

Authored by: Joshua M. Cowen

Handbook of Research on School Choice

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815381464
eBook ISBN: 9781351210447
Adobe ISBN:


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School voucher programs are expanding in number and scope across the country. This chapter argues that with such an expansion, questions of politics and governance over voucher programs are shifting from debates about the existence of these programs to more focused concerns over the appropriate outcomes on which to evaluate their effects, and the role of government oversight in performance monitoring. The chapter proceeds sequentially by first providing a brief review of research on vouchers and then discussing more recent and clearly defined trends away from a focus on academic achievement outcomes. The chapter then frames that earlier research, and those more recent trends, within the context of regulation or oversight of voucher programs. The concluding section argues that the question of oversight, and of different and perhaps even competing perspectives on underlying educational goals, will mark the next generation of voucher policy development.

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