Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Research Papers in Economics,
Stockholm University, Department of Economics

No 2016:2: The impact of upper-secondary voucher school attendance on student achievement. Swedish evidence using external and internal evaluations

Bjorn Tyrefors Hinnerich () and Jonas Vlachos ()
Additional contact information
Bjorn Tyrefors Hinnerich: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University, Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Jonas Vlachos: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University, Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Sweden has a school voucher system with universal coverage and full acceptance of corporate providers. Using a value added approach, we find that students at upper- secondary voucher schools on average score 0.06 standard deviations lower on externally graded standardized tests in first year core courses. The negative impact is larger among lower achieving students (but not among immigrant students), the same students who are most prone to attend voucher schools. For high achieving students, the voucher school impact is around zero. Comparing internal and external evaluations of the same standardized tests, we find that voucher schools are 0.14 standard deviations more generous than municipal schools in their internal test grading. The greater leniency in test grading is relatively uniform across different groups, but more pronounced among students at academic than vocational programs. The findings are consistent with voucher schools responding more to differences in educational preferences than municipal schools.

Keywords: Voucher schools; student achievement; grading standards

JEL-codes: H40; I21; I22

55 pages, June 1, 2016

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