Rss@dailykos.com (laura Clawson) · Saturday, April 29, 2017, 1:32 pm
Advocates for school privatization are hurrying to come up with excuses to respond to a new federal analysis finding that the federally funded school voucher program in Washington, D.C., is not only not improving student achievement on test scores, it’s making things worse.
In the District, the findings show that students who used vouchers had significantly lower math scores a year after they applied to the program, on average, than students who did not receive a scholarship. Reading scores also were lower, but the difference was not statistically significant.
Among students who transferred into a private school from a low-performing public school — the population that the voucher program primarily aims to reach — attending a private school had no effect on achievement. Among students attending schools not designated low-performing, the negative effect was particularly large.
Test scores aren’t the heart and soul of education, of course … except that privatization proponents tend to use test scores as a club against public schools and then turn around and offer up a double standard to benefit voucher programs and charter schools. Using test scores to judge the performance of vouchers is using the logic of the corporate education policy world.
The same analysis also raised questions about the power of “choice”:
The 2010 analysis also showed that parents of students who were offered vouchers, but not the students themselves, felt more confident in the safety of their schools. The new evaluation echoes that finding. The new evaluation also found that the program had no effect on parents’ school satisfaction.
But “choice” is really just a cover for weakening public education, anyway. And that’s the crusade that Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s education secretary, has dedicated her life and many of her billions of dollars to. Evidence to the contrary is emphatically not welcome.