Milwaukee Evaluations: Final Reports
Five years and thirty-six reports later, the researchers at the University of Arkansas’s School Choice Demonstration Project have written their last word on Milwaukee’s Parental Choice Program (MPCP) (some background here and here). Largely, the news is good for the nation’s oldest school-voucher enterprise. Eight new studies—written by Patrick Wolf, John Witte, Anna Jacob, and others—make plain that voucher students were more likely to graduate high school and enroll in a four-year college than their counterparts in the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). Voucher pupils also made significantly larger reading gains. Perhaps most tantalizing, the state’s new school-accountability requirements seem partly responsible for the progress. In 2010-11, the final year of data collection, MPCP students made significantly larger reading gains than their MPS peers—unlike previous years, when voucher students were merely on par with their public-school counterparts. (Achievement growth in math was about the same for MPCP and MPS students throughout the studied years.) Interestingly, the same year saw a host of additional testing and reporting regulations added to participating voucher schools. For example, voucher-bearing pupils had to take state assessments and their schools had to adopt formal graduation and promotion standards. Though analysts couldn’t “determine conclusively how big a role the accountability policy played,” their findings encourage the view that voucher programs shouldn’t be ruled by the market alone; transparency and results-based accountability are good for everyone.
School Choice Demonstration Project, Milwaukee Evaluation: Final Reports (Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas, February 2012).
Category: Charters & Choice
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