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Press Release
August 18, 2009

Contact: Kasia Zabawa
Press Officer
Phone: (646) 839-3342
kzabawa@manhattan-institute.org


EMBARGOED UNTIL AUGUST 18, 2009 at 12:01 AM

Do special-education vouchers change the likelihood that a student is diagnosed as disabled?

STUDY REVEALS IMPACT OF VOUCHERS ON SPECIAL- EDUCATION GROWTH

New York, NY: On Tuesday, August 18th, Manhattan Institute senior fellows Marcus A. Winters and Jay P. Greene released a new study, "How Special Ed Vouchers Keep Kids From Being Mislabeled as Disabled." The authors examine the implementation of a special-education voucher program to determine whether it reduces the likelihood that a student will be diagnosed as disabled.

The authors evaluate Florida's McKay voucher program, the first and largest voucher program for disabled students in the nation. Similar programs are currently operating in Ohio, Georgia, and Utah. This study is the first empirical evaluation to examine vouchers' effect on disability classifications.

Highlights of the study include:

  • The number of students diagnosed with a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) has grown substantially in recent years.
  • For a student in a public school in an area with an average number of nearby participating private schools, the probability that he is diagnosed as having an SLD decreased by about 15 percent.
  • These results indicate that special-education voucher programs reduce the financial incentives that exist in most states to inaccurately place low-achieving students in special-education.

The authors conclude special-education vouchers limit the number of misdiagnoses of struggling students and thus constrain the costly artificial increase in special-education enrollments.

The study can be accessed online at http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_58.htm. If you would like to schedule an interview with one of the authors, please contact Kasia Zabawa at (646) 839-3342 or by email at kzabawa@manhattan-institute.org.

ABOUT AUTHORS

Marcus A. Winters is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He has performed several studies on a variety of education policy issues, including high-stakes testing, charter schools, and the effects of vouchers on the public school system. He received his B.A. in political science with departmental honors from Ohio University and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Arkansas.

Jay P. Greene, Ph.D., is Endowed Chair and Head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He is the author of, Education Myths, which received wide acclaim. His education research has been cited in U.S. Supreme Court opinions and has appeared in scholarly and popular publications. Dr. Greene obtained his doctorate in political science from Harvard University in 1995.

The Manhattan Institute, a 501(c)(3), is a think tank whose mission is to develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.

 

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The Manhattan Institute, a 501(c)(3), is a think tank whose mission is to develop and disseminate new ideas
that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.

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