Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Public oversight improves test scores in voucher schools

Date:
June 10, 2014
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Requiring private schools that receive public money to report student test scores improves academic achievement and ultimately enhances school choice, a argues. Researchers found that voucher schools in Milwaukee saw a large jump in math and reading scores the year after a new law required them to release the results. During the four years before the law was enacted, math and reading scores declined or remained stagnant.

A study led by Michigan State University's Joshua Cowen provides the first scientific evidence that accountability measures can lead to academic improvement in private voucher schools that take public money.
Credit: Image courtesy of Michigan State University

Requiring private schools that receive public money to report student test scores improves academic achievement and ultimately enhances school choice, a Michigan State University scholar argues.

In a pioneering study, Joshua Cowen and colleagues found that voucher schools in Milwaukee saw a large jump in math and reading scores the year after a new law required them to release the results. During the four years before the law was enacted, math and reading scores declined or remained stagnant.

The study, which appears in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, is the first to provide scientific evidence that accountability measures can improve test scores in private schools that serve students through tax-funded vouchers.

"School choice is enhanced when voucher schools or other alternatives supported on the public dime report more rather than less information," said Cowen, associate professor of education policy and teacher education. "It's a victory for public oversight as well."

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia use school vouchers. Other states, including Michigan, have laws allowing for charter schools, which are public schools that operate independently.

While voucher and charter schools have varying levels of accountability, many school-choice proponents are opposed to the public disclosure of test scores, arguing that competition alone should be enough to weed out poor-performing schools.

The voucher program is targeted toward poor students in big cities. Cowen believes there is a role for school choice to play in these urban areas, where many students are desperate for high quality schools.

But at the same time, he said families should have as much information as possible to make their educational decisions.

"Without public reporting of academic results, how will the parents of these students know which private schools are worth choosing and which should be avoided?" Cowen said. "If we ask them to trust that the market will work, why not let them verify it?"

The study looked at state standardized tests in Milwaukee's voucher program from 2006 to 2010. The program is the oldest and one of the largest school voucher systems in the nation, serving 21,000 students, or nearly a fifth of Milwaukee's K-12 population.

A Wisconsin law requiring public reporting of test scores from voucher schools went into effect during the last year of the study, 2010, giving researchers a rare look at private-school test scores both before and after the accountability mandate.

The test scores went up pretty much across the board, Cowen said, though it's not clear what fueled the improvement. It could be that education truly improved or perhaps that voucher schools were simply "teaching to the test," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. F. Witte, P. J. Wolf, J. M. Cowen, D. E. Carlson, D. J. Fleming. High-Stakes Choice: Achievement and Accountability in the Nation's Oldest Urban Voucher Program. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 2014; DOI: 10.3102/0162373714534521

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Public oversight improves test scores in voucher schools." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140610144750.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2014, June 10). Public oversight improves test scores in voucher schools. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140610144750.htm
Michigan State University. "Public oversight improves test scores in voucher schools." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140610144750.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The New York Times has officially endorsed the legalization of marijuana, but why now, and to what end? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Congress OKs Unlocking Phones From Carriers

Congress OKs Unlocking Phones From Carriers

Newsy (July 26, 2014) A bill legalizing "unlocking," or untethering a phone from its default wireless carrier, has passed Congress and is expected to be signed into law. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Wikipedia Puts Congress in Time Out, Blocks Editing

Wikipedia Puts Congress in Time Out, Blocks Editing

Newsy (July 26, 2014) An IP address within the House of Representatives was banned from editing Wikipedia articles for 10 days after it made some questionable changes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins