This policy brief reviews research on what impact the competition
introduced by vouchers and charter schools has upon the effectiveness and
efficiency of traditional public schools (TPSs). Only recently has such
research been possible in the U.S., as choice options became sufficiently
widespread to elicit competitive responses from TPSs. We summarize
conflicting theoretical predictions about how competition affects students
who do not actively choose, and we identify features of policy design,
implementation and local settings likely to influence the nature of
competition. We find that results from available empirical studies are
mixed and do not yet allow for firm conclusions about the effects of
competition on traditional schools and non-choosing students. The review
notes methodological challenges and possible lines of future research.
We recommend that policymakers exercise caution when assessing
predictions that school choice policies will benefit students who are not
active choosers, since the evidence in support of this claim is not yet
strong or conclusive.