Date of Award

Fall 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Marilyn A. Hirth

Committee Chair

Marilyn A. Hirth

Committee Member 1

Jim Freeland

Committee Member 2

William D. McInerney

Committee Member 3

Pamela Frampton


The purpose of this quantitative study is to determine the effect that educational choice, in the form of vouchers, is having on the performance of traditional public schools in Hamilton County, Ohio. The threat of losing students to vouchers creates a sense of competition for students, and ultimately the dollars that are attached to them. This competition is relatively new to public education and is being promoted by state legislators as a catalyst for public school improvement. All data sets were obtained from publically available data on the Ohio Department of Education website between 2001 and 2012. Between 2001 and 2012, 107 Hamilton County schools had data points for each year. Twenty-five (25) of those schools were threatened by voucher eligibility in 2006 and eighty-two (82) were exempt from the threat of vouchers. The twenty-five schools threatened by vouchers increased an average of ten (10) Performance Index points between 2007 and 2012. The 82 non-threatened schools only increased an average of one (1) Performance Index point. The voucher-threatened schools closed the achievement gap 17 Performance Index points between 2001 and 2012. When the voucher effect was compared in a multiple regression to other factors that may contribute to change in performance, only the voucher variable was significant. Going from a non-voucher eligible school to a voucher eligible school is associated with a 19% increase in PIS from 2007 to 2012. Schools that are eligible for vouchers are not closing at a significantly faster rate than non-voucher eligible schools in Hamilton County, Ohio based on a Chi-Square Test of Independence. The results of this study indicate that the traditional public schools in Hamilton County Ohio have responded positively to the threat of competition from vouchers. The EdChoice (voucher) program seems to be having a positive effect on the performance scores of previously failing public schools. Recommendations were made to educators and legislators who are debating this topic at the state level.