The Effects of Regulations on Private School Choice Program Participation: Experimental Evidence from California and New York
The higher the regulatory costs of participation, the less likely a private school is to participate in a school voucher program.
Although private school voucher programs provide subsidies to students for tuition and other education-related costs, private school leaders weigh program participation against any associated regulatory costs. The higher the regulatory costs of participation, the less likely a private school is to participate in a school voucher program. Since we do not know with certainty which regulations will be viewed by school leaders as more or less costly, we explore whether specific regulations that are common to private school choice programs do or do not deter likely voucher program participation.
We use surveys to randomly assign different regulations to 4,825 private school leaders in the states of California and New York and ask them whether or not they would participate in a new private school choice program during the following school year. Relative to no regulations, our most conservative models find that open-enrollment mandates reduce the likelihood that private school leaders are certain to participate in a hypothetical choice program by about 19 percentage points, or 60 percent. State standardized testing requirements reduce the likelihood that private school leaders are certain to participate by 9 percentage points, or 29 percent. We find no evidence to suggest that the prohibition of copayment or nationally norm-referenced testing requirements affect the overall willingness to participate in a school choice program.