Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Republican Budget Bill Bans Gold-Standard studies for Vouchers!!!

Donald Trump’s secretary of Education Betsy DeVos now has an open field when it comes to selling the miracle of school vouchers. In the next four years, voucher schools can print up almost any claim they want, since the Gold-Standard of voucher evaluations has been BANNED! EdWeek:
Congress Budget Deal Bans New Gold-Standard Studies of Federal Vouchers: As part of a fiscal 2017 budget deal, Congress plans to forbid the use of randomized, controlled trials in new evaluations of the only federal school voucher program.
Banning the “Gold-Standard” studies of the voucher program blows up any suggestion Republicans want to get rid of wasteful ineffective programs.

And there’s a reason why the Gold-Standard was forbidden:
The move comes a week after an experimental-design study found negative results for students who accepted vouchers compared to students who applied but were not chosen for the program. The change in future methods may have ripple effects … for states and districts trying to work out how to identify successful programs under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Mark Dynarski, the lead author in the most recent evaluation of the voucher program, said "ESSA is pretty clear about the role of evidence and experiments, and this does muddy the water."
Proof once again, vouchers were never meant to improve a child’s education, they were meant to make some people and investors lots of money:
Under ESSA, randomized, controlled trials are considered the "gold standard" and the strongest tier of evidence to identify effective programs. This is the first time since the law was passed that Congress has specifically requested a less-rigorous evaluation method for a program.
What makes this the Gold-Standard?
The federal voucher program, which awards students based on a lottery of applicants, is uniquely suited to use a comparison group of students who applied for the scholarship but didn't get it. Doing so removes the potential for selection bias, as students and families who put forth the effort to apply for a voucher may differ from those who don't.
I don’t know why we have to resort to sounding “impartial” when the intent of Republican lawmakers is to ban evaluations that prove how bad the whole vouchers program is, but we do:

"Considering the topic in question, and in the context of having used strong scientific methods for the previous study and the current one, it's at least unclear why now is the time to swap out strong methods and swap in weaker ones." 
No, it's not unclear.

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