New Study: Choice Students’ Graduation Rate 18% higher than Kids in MPS


MacIver News Service

[Milwaukee, Wisc…] The graduation rate for students in Milwaukee’s School Choice program was 18 percent higher than for students in the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), according to a new study released today.

The study estimates that 3,352 additional Milwaukee students would have graduated between 2003 and 2008 if public school graduation rates had matched those of low-income students using educational vouchers through the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. 

“This new study deserves the attention of state and federal officials — including President Barack Obama — who seek education reforms that produce solid results,” said Jeff Monday, principal of Milwaukee’s Messmer High School.

University of Minnesota Professor John Robert Warren wrote the report and estimates a 2008 graduation rate of 77% for school choice students, compared to 65% for their MPS counterparts. 

Warren says the twelve percentage point gap translates to an 18% higher rate for voucher students. Dr. Warren found a similar average difference for the six-year period of 2003 through 2008.

School Choice supporters say their program serves as an example of an education reform that is producing tangible results–and one that deserves support both locally and nationally.

“If President Obama wants to fund proven school reform, I urge him to look at Milwaukee’s voucher program, which has proven to be both effective and has saved taxpayers tens of millions,” said St. Anthony’s Catholic School President Terry Brown. 

The cost of High School drop outs is staggering. A 2009 report by  the MacIver Institute and the the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice found that dropouts cost the state of Wisconsin $121 million in tax revenue each year due to lower wages. Because the average dropout earns approximately $10,000 less per year than a high school graduate, the report estimates that if all the State’s  high school dropouts did graduate from high school, earnings in Wisconsin would increase by almost $4.5 billion.

Supports of the Choice Program say Warren’s findings are even more impressive when one considers that  children educated at Choice schools receive less than half the taxpayer support than their peers at MPS. ($6,442 to $14,011). Also Professor Warren notes that eligibility for the choice program is limited to students from low-income families while “students in MPS schools come from a much broader range of social and economic backgrounds.”

A full copy of Professor Warren’s report is available here.

Information on the MacIver/Friedman report can be found here.