Grant Goes to CREO for Indiana Vouchers Study


A nearly $300,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation will support the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Research on Educational Opportunity (CREO) in a groundbreaking study of Indiana’s school voucher program.

The foundation recently announced its grant for a two-year research project led by CREO director Mark Berends, a distinguished sociologist of education. He and his team will use a uniquely broad database to probe the vouchers’ impacts on student achievement in the state.

Housed in Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives, CREO and its scholars have a long-term data-sharing agreement well-suited to inquire how the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program impacts different groups of students in different ways across traditional public, charter, and private schools.

All schools participating in the voucher program, which began in 2011, administer the state test, which generates uniform measures of performance. With hoped-for expansions to the database, Berends said the collection of test scores and related information will help assess whether Indiana’s initiative affects racial/ethnic and socioeconomic achievement gaps among students and schools.

“This new grant represents a major investment in helping the nation understand the impact of the school-choice movement—capturing insights in the right state with the right data at the right time,” Berends said. “The Walton Family Foundation’s generous support complements our commitment at Notre Dame to confront issues of access to quality schooling for children from all backgrounds.”