More on Milwaukee School Choice Research Results

I wrote last week about the release of the final research results from Milwaukee’s school choice program.  On Sunday the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel devoted its entire editorial page to a discussion of those results.  Check out the succinct summary of the findings by Patrick Wolf and John Witte.

Also be sure to check out the response from the head of the teachers union, Bob Peterson.  His rebuttal consists of noting that many students switch sectors, moving from choice to traditional public schools as well as in the opposite direction.  He thinks that this undermines the validity of Wolf and Witte’s graduation rate analysis, but he fails to understand that the researchers used an intention to treat approach that attributes outcomes to students’ original selection of sector regardless of their switching.  And on the special education claim he simply reiterates the Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) faulty effort to equate the percentage of students who are entitled to accommodations on the state test with the percentage of students who have disabilities.

For more on how DPI under-stated the rate of disabilities in the Milwaukee choice program by between 400% and 900%, check out the new article Wolf, Fleming, and Witte just published in Education Next.  It’s not only an excellent piece of research detective work on how DPI arrived at such an erroneous claim, but it is also a useful warning to anyone who thinks that government issued claims provide the authoritative answer on research questions.  Government agencies, like DPI, can lie and distort as much or more than any special interest group.  They just do it with your tax dollars and in your name.

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3 Responses to More on Milwaukee School Choice Research Results

  1. George Mitchell says:

    The Journal Sentinel also published a critique of SCDP statistical methods from Alex Molnar and Kevin Welner of the National Education Policy Center. The NEPC receives
    financial support from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice and the National Education Association. The NEA of course is the nation’s largest teachers union. The vice president of the Great Lakes Center is Mary Bell, president of Wisconsin’s largest teachers union.
    In considering Molnar’s statistical critique of SCDP, observers should keep in mind his courtroom testimony many years ago in a Wisconsin case involving school choice. While saying that “I don’t attest to be an expert in statistics,” Molnar then said peer-reviewed research showing positive school choice results contained many errors. Molnar said he reached that conclusion after consulting an unnamed “statistician who does the numbers at the [UW-Milwaukee] Urban Research Center.”

    • Greg Forster says:

      Just like Common Core – these people think they can wave their hands around and call it an argument.

  2. baughan says:

    I was in Madison a week ago, testifying at the Senate hearing on SB486, the Special Needs Scholarship Program. I was so impressed by many who spoke in favor of the bill, representing some of the Milwaukee Choice Schools. They are a godsend to those children, lucky enough to attend, and their families. It was clear those who opposed the bill, especially the Big ED and disabilities lobbyists, did so because of $elf-intere$t and a desperate attempt to keep the school voucher genie in the bottle.

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