Benefits of School Choice

5 Key Benefits


Better or equivalent educational experience


Cost Effectiveness


Improved Mental Health of Students


Higher likelihood of college admission, and college graduation


General societal benefit (Reduced levels of crime, higher likelihood of students achieving middle class income levels, higher likelihood of general happiness)


One of the first studies demonstrating the benefit of the MPCP was conducted by researchers from both Harvard and the University of Texas – Austin in 1999. They concluded that students who were exposed to the MPCP saw increases in both math and reading achievement levels (Green, Peterson, and Du, 1999).

The non-profit group EdChoice analyzed research from 175 empirical studies on school choice programs – including voucher programs, tax-credit scholarship, and education savings accounts.

86% of reviewed empirical studies from across the country find school choice programs have positive effects on students, schools or state budgets

In total, 28 full academic studies have been conducted in Wisconsin, dating back to the advent of the Milwaukee Parental Choice program.

Additionally, analysis of the statewide report card of schools that accept public money in Milwaukee, the most diverse district in the state, finds charter and choice schools typically outperform traditional public schools, and historically marginalized students are often the greatest beneficiaries of the choice program.

The School Choice Demonstration Project, a nationally recognized group comprised by the US Department of Education, produced 35 separate reports from 20-years worth of data regarding the MPCP program.


According to Alan Borsuk, columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Only 19% of students listed as economically disadvantaged were considered proficient or better in English language arts. However, among Milwaukee students using vouchers, the proficiency rate was 21%”.

While there is still a long way to go, this statistic demonstrates how the MPCP can begin to help disadvantaged students become proficient in basic English skills moving forward.

Cost Effectiveness

In a study conducted in March of 2020, research analyzed the cost-effectiveness of Wisconsin’s school choice programs through the state. Findings show that school-choice programs are between 29-30% more cost-effective than traditional public schools.

Traditional School

The average cost of educating a traditional Wisconsin public-school student is $14,737.

School Choice Program

According to the Wisconsin Department of Instruction, “state aid payment for a student enrolled full-time in the Parental Choice Program in grade K-8 is $8,399 and $9,045 for a student enrolled full-time in grades 9-12.

Not only does school choice offer a positive learning environment for students at a school that works best for them, it also provides these experiences at a more efficient cost to taxpayers.

Mental Health Benefits

According to the Department of Public Instruction, research proves there is a significant connection between social-emotional development, academic achievement, and mental health.

In a study titled “The Effect of School Choice on Mental Health”, research showed that private schools and choice programs lower the likelihood that individuals report having mental health issues when they develop into adults.

Additionally, findings conclude that because students can attend a school that best suits their needs, or avoid bullying and aggressive behaviors at other schools, school choice improves mental health.


When comparing groups of Milwaukee Public School and MPCP students, findings suggest that MPCP students outperform public school students in college attainment (Wolf, White, and Brian, 2019).


In research conducted by the Urban Institute, findings show that students participating in the MPCP program are more likely to attend college and last longer in the school they attend.

Additional research shows that of those students who go to college, MPCP students also graduated from four-year colleges at a 38% higher rate than traditional public-school students (Chingos, Kuehn, Monarrez, Wolf, and White, 2019).


Because students participating in school choice programs are more likely to achieve a college diploma, they are more likely to be employed and more likely to earn a higher income as a result.

The average college graduate earns $78,000 a year compared to $45,000 earned by someone who only achieved a high school diploma.

Those who achieve a bachelors degree also are more likely to stay employed during economic recessions as well as are more likely to have stronger employer benefits, such as health care coverage.



Using a combination of Wisconsin Circuit Court data and student information from the Department of Instruction, researchers have shown that those who participate in Parental Choice Programs in greater length commit less crimes.

Research shows that students who have participated in the MPCP for at least 4-5 years had a reduction in criminality rates of “75% for felonies, 56-78% for misdemeanors, and 21-50% for any criminal accusations” (DeAngelis and Wolf, 2016).

Additional research shows that simply exposing a student to a private school environment is associated with a lower general crime rate (DeAngelis and Wolf, 2019).

This article was selected by the Journal of Private Enterprise as the best academic article of 2021.



According to studies conducted by Princeton University and Nobel Prize winning economists, happiness does increase with wealth.

However, the level of happiness increases plateaus around 75,000 dollars per year. This is right in line with the average income for a college graduate.

Fiscal Impact

Results from fiscal analysis conclude that educational choice programs are funded at a significantly lower public expense than public school systems.

The analysis looked at three of the Badger State’s four education choice programs—the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the Parental Private School Choice Program (Racine), and the Parental Choice Program (Statewide)—and found they have saved Wisconsin taxpayers between $381.4 million and $2.2 billion through Fiscal Year 2018. This works out to a savings of between $1,065 and $6,048 per each student participating in the programs.

While educational choice programs enroll just 2.3 percent of publicly funded K-12 students overall, these programs receive just 1.0 percent of total public spending. These basic facts provide important context for evaluating arguments that private educational choice programs harm students who remain in district schools. Given this context, it is difficult to see how expanding educational opportunities for families via educational choice programs could harm public school systems fiscally. Tim Benson – The Heartland Institute