Yesterday (April 27), the DOE’s Institute of Education Sciences released their first-year evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, which does not support the professed benefits of voucher programs. (The results might have been more encouraging–at least for the investors–if the IES had evaluated the schools’ profitability instead of their educational effectiveness.) Here’s the IES summation of their findings–
“The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), established in 2004, is the only federally-funded private school voucher program for low-income parents in the United States. This report examines impacts on achievement and other outcomes one year after eligible children were selected or not selected to receive scholarships using a lottery process in 2012, 2013, and 2014. The study found negative impacts on student achievement but positive impacts on parent perceptions of school safety, for those participating in the program. There were no statistically significant effects on parents’ or students’ general satisfaction with their schools or parent involvement in education.”
Last week, at the suggestion of AFT President Randi Weingarten, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited public-school classrooms in Van Wert, Ohio, a rural community where half the district’s 2,000 students come from low-income families yet 96% graduate from high school—on time. With top-line results like that, you’d expect the Van Wert district would be getting top grades in Ohio’s standardized school assessment system, but you’d be only half-right: A’s for graduation rate and progress in math and reading, but F’s for achievement gaps and K-3 literacy.
So where did Betsy DeVos focus her post-visit remarks? On school choice, of course. Faced with the dearth of charter schools and private schools and vouchers in rural Ohio, she seized on the fact that the parents of nearly 20% of the students in Van Wert city schools choose to send their children to public schools in other districts.
She also promised to lift the burden of government-mandated paperwork that takes time away from teaching. When asked for examples, however, she couldn’t cite any. She must be taking alternative-fact lessons in Washington.
This website seems to be pretty much up and running now. I’ll be posting occasional commentary on future developments—positive and negative—in public education. Given the early positions and directives of the current Secretary of Education, it seems likely there will be plenty that are worthy of comment.