Saturday, March 18, 2017

Vouchers do not improve student achievement, Stanford researcher finds | Stanford News

Vouchers do not improve student achievement, Stanford researcher finds | Stanford News:

Vouchers do not improve student achievement, Stanford researcher finds
Education professor Martin Carnoy analyzed 25 years of research and found that voucher programs do not significantly improve test scores. Carnoy says vouchers distract from proven policies and programs with proven impact on test scores and graduation rates.

Proponents of “school choice” say that voucher programs – which allow parents to use state education funds to enroll their children in private schools – promote learning by providing access to different types of schools and by fostering competition that motivates public schools to improve.
But there’s no evidence that voucher programs significantly increase test scores, according to a new report by Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE) Professor Martin Carnoy.
At best, they have only a modest impact on high school graduation rates, Carnoy found – and the risks they pose outweigh any advances.
“The evidence is very weak that vouchers produce significant gains in learning,” Carnoy said. “They also carry hidden costs, and they’re distracting us from other solutions that could yield much higher returns.”

Assessing the impact

The report, published by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), was initiated shortly after Betsy DeVos was nominated to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education. DeVos, who was confirmed Feb. 7, has pushed for the expansion of school vouchers nationwide.
Carnoy analyzed research conducted over the past 25 years, including studies of programs in Milwaukee, New York City, Washington, D.C., Indiana and Louisiana. Most studies have evaluated the impact of vouchers through test scores (as a proxy for student achievement) and high school graduation and college enrollment rates (indicators of school performance).
In Milwaukee, where the nation’s second-largest (after Indiana’s more recent) voucher program has been operating for almost 20 years, only a quarter of students attend their neighborhood school. “If choice were the answer, Milwaukee would be one of the highest-scoring cities in the country,” Carnoy said.
But test score data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tell a different story. Among black eighth-graders in 13 urban school districts, Milwaukee – where black students make up more than 70 percent of all voucher recipients – ranked last in reading and second-to-last in math.
In cases where test scores did improve, Carnoy said, the increase appeared to be driven by increased public accountability, not vouchers. A four-year study in Milwaukee found no greater gains in state test scores among voucher students attending private schools until the legislature announced that all private schools accepting voucher students would be required to take the test and that the results would be made public. Researchers concluded that publicizing the results for the first time pressed these schools to focus more teaching on elements that might appear on the test, which helped increase their scores.
While research has found some small gains in voucher schools’ graduation and college enrollment rates, Carnoy said there’s no evidence indicating whether this was due to private school competition – as free-market proponents contend – or to private high schools’ willingness to shed less-motivated students.

Hidden costs

The report also disputes the common claim that vouchers cost less per student than traditional public education. “The cost argument is flawed,” Carnoy said, because the savings that private schools enjoy couldn’t be sustained if voucher programs were implemented much more widely.
For one thing, a private school that accepts vouchers can ease out low-performing students, even if initially required to admit them by lottery. Also, administering a voucher plan is expensive: Carnoy cited research estimating that record-keeping, student transportation and other costs associated with vouchers could raise public educational costs by 25 percent or more.
One alarming long-term cost of a voucher system, Carnoy said, is the impact it could have on the teaching pipeline. Public education’s tenure and pension system offers security that compensates for relatively low pay and that helps to retain experienced teachers. Without these benefits, he said, fewer young teachers would be likely to enter and remain in the profession.
Private schools in a largely public system save money by hiring young teachers who seek training and experience and have the option to go on to competitive positions at public schools. A mainly private Vouchers do not improve student achievement, Stanford researcher finds | Stanford News:

Reader Comment:

Elizabeth Davis 

Washington teachers union29 minutes ago  -  Shared publicly
DC doesn't want or need a school voucher program and imposing a federal voucher program on DC residents is undemocratic and an attack on DC Home Rule. The reauthorization of the DC voucher program was crammed down the throats by Chaffetz and other members of the Trump Administration who advocate for the privatization of our public schools

The Washington Teachers’ Union and its national affiliate, the American Federation of Teachers, have long been opposed to school vouchers because of their negative impact on public education and the lack of evidence that they improve the education of students who receive them.

The DC voucher program takes millions of dollars, that would be better spent funding the District’s public schools; away from neighborhood public schools. Many of the private schools participating in the DC voucher program can pick and choose which students to accept and do not adhere to all federal civil rights laws and public accountability standards that public schools must meet. The program has been plagued by a lack of oversight and issues concerning quality as documented by GAO reports and a Washington Post special investigation

Most private schools, even those receiving taxpayer-funded voucher money, do not have to meet standards for curriculum, testing, teacher qualifications or school quality. Eighty percent of students using vouchers in DC attend private religious schools, which operate outside federal civil rights protections and the non-discrimination provisions of the DC Human Rights Act.

Private schools participating in the DC voucher program can pick and choose which students to accept and do not have to provide the same rights and protections to students as public schools, including protections in key provisions of the Civil Rights Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The WTU will continue to stand with DC residents in urging the Mayor and the Council of the District of Columbia to actively and publicly oppose the DC school voucher program and give the $20 million to improve our public community schools of right.

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