Hitt, McShane and Wolf Meta-Analysis leads to a call for humility

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

My favorite quote from Hitt, McShane and Wolf’s new study:

Even with these caveats in mind, the policy implications from this analysis are clear. The most obvious implication is that policymakers need to be much more humble in what they believe that test scores tell them about the performance of schools of choice. Test scores
are not giving us the whole picture. Insofar as test scores are used to make determinations in “portfolio” governance structures or are used to close (or expand) schools, policymakers might be making errors. This is not to say that test scores should be wholly discarded.
Rather, test scores should be put in context and should not automatically occupy a privileged place over parental demand and satisfaction as short-term measures of school choice success or failure.

P.S. Letting parents take the lead on which schools expand and/or close can work out fine on the types of tests schools have almost no ability/incentive to game:

The implications of this meta-analysis of the research literature could stretch far beyond the choice sector in time. If test scores continue to show a weak and inconsistent relationship with long-term outcomes, broad rethinking will be required. Let’s see what happens next.

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