Friday, August 13, 2010

After 3 Years, Most of the Milwaukee Voucher Students Left.

It's funny how bits and pieces of research keep shredding away the idea that vouchers will improve our system of education. All we're really doing is creating a parallel system with its own problems, similar to the public system, and hoping it doesn't get worse.

Jsonline: A long-range study evaluating voucher schools in Milwaukee is finding little difference in academic achievement between their students and those in public schools, state auditors said … But the study is complicated by the fact that three years into the research, most of the private school students selected for it are no longer attending schools in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.

Only 1,097, or 40.2%, of the 2,727 voucher school students selected for the study in the 2006-'07 school year were still part of the choice program by the 2008-'09 school year, according to the report by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau.

The report analyzed data and results gathered by academics at the University of Arkansas to compare math and reading test scores of choice program students with those of similar students in Milwaukee Public Schools … third through eighth grades during the 2006-'07 school year, as well as all ninth-graders. Of the voucher school students, 31% had transferred to an MPS school after three years.

That didn't necessarily mean that those students or families preferred MPS. The report noted that only 33 of the 127 voucher schools offer the high school grades, meaning that most students have to switch to other schools when they enter high school.

The Audit Bureau wasn't provided with the data needed to analyze how many students chose to leave their voucher school and how many were forced to do so to enter the next grade. Another 28.8% of the students leaving voucher schools had done so for reasons that could range from having moved out of the area to having dropped out of school.

Of the MPS students selected for the study, a much higher 77.6% remained in the district after three years, with 7.1% transferring to choice schools and 15.3% leaving for unknown reasons … the movement of students into and out of voucher schools could make it harder for them to help students see sustained improvement compared with their counterparts in public schools.

Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), said he was also looking forward to new information being collected on how students in specific voucher schools are faring - a requirement included in last year's state budget. The University of Arkansas researchers don't release results broken down by individual schools. "That's what's needed to really draw conclusions," Barca said.

Keep in mind, before passing last year’s requirement to narrow the results to individual voucher schools, advocates of privatization were happy not knowing which schools produced the best results. And before that, the state didn’t even ask for testing or any other kind of accountability.

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