New Grad Rate Study in Milwaukee

January 10, 2011

School Choice Wisconsin has released a new study by the University of Minnesota’s John Robert Warren of graduation rates for the voucher and public school systems in Milwaukee.  Here’s the highlight from the release:

Based on seven years of data, Professor Warren estimates that the graduation rate for students in Milwaukee’s choice program was about 18% higher than for students in MPS.  Had MPS achieved the same graduation rate as students in the MPCP, an additional 3,939 Milwaukee students would have graduated from 2003 to 2009.  Based on findings in separate research reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the annual impact from these additional graduates would have been about $4.2 million in extra tax revenue and $24.9 million in additional personal income.

Warren’s research shows a general pattern of growth in Milwaukee graduation rates.  From 2003 to 2009 the MPS rate grew from 49% to 70%.  For the MPCP the rate grew from 63% to 82%.

Of course, this is not a causal analysis.  We do not know (and the study does not claim) that the higher grad rate among voucher students is caused by the program.  A forthcoming analysis by the University of Arkansas’  School Choice Demonstration Project, led by my colleague, Patrick Wolf,  should be able to address that issue.

But the this descriptive report is nevertheless encouraging.  Not only do voucher students graduate at higher rates than MPS students, but both sectors have been improving their graduation rates.  That finding is consistent with a scenario in which choice and competition are improving outcomes for all students — public and private — in Milwaukee.


Attack of the Killer Vouchers!

February 2, 2010

Bruegel’s “The Triumph of Vouchers”

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Yesterday we learned about the horrible massacre of the innocents in Milwaukee Public Schools. Confronted with evidence showing substantially higher graduation rates in private schools participating in the city’s voucher program than in public schools, a public school official cited “mortality” as an excuse.

No doubt it won’t be long before they announce that Milwaukee public school students are dying in such large numbers because of the voucher program!

You doubt it? The journal Environmental Science and Technology has already published an article – carefully peer reviewed using the same totally neutral and non-corrupted system they use for all the other climate science – finding that school vouchers cause global warming. You see, vouchers irresponsibly permit parents to choose whether and how far to drive their students to school, thus recklessly increasing the levels of the dangerous chemical globalwarmic hysteriphate in the atmosphere, further sapping the purity of our precious, precious bodily fluids.

And since it’s already an established scientific fact that global warming causes everything bad, it follows as night follows day that vouchers, by causing global warming, cause mortality in Milwaukee public schools.

Now if only we could find a way to protect our children from this threat . . . if only there were an education policy that were proven to improve school safety by moving students from less safe schools into more safe schools. Hmmm…

HT Dan Lips

Milwaukee Voucher Students Have Higher Grad Rate

February 2, 2010

In a new analysis released today by School Choice Wisconsin, University of Minnesota sociologist Rob Warren finds that voucher students in Milwaukee graduate high school at a higher rate than students in Milwaukee Public Schools.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s coverage this morning:

For 2007-’08, Warren estimated the graduation rate in voucher schools to be 77%, and the graduation rate in MPS to be 65%, a difference of 12 percentage points. The information includes comparisons between seven choice schools and 23 public high schools that could provide complete data for all six years studied, and adjusted to account for an expected 5% ninth-grade retention rate in choice schools and an expected 25% ninth-grade retention rate in MPS.

And from the report’s summary we get an idea of how big that difference in graduation rate is:

As Professor Warren illustrates here, had MPS attained the same graduation rate achieved in the MPCP, an additional 3,352 students would have received diplomas between 2003 and 2008. According to the research cited in the Journal Sentinel, the annual impact from an additional 3,352 MPS graduates would include an additional $21.2 million in personal income and about $3.6 million in extra tax revenue.

Warren is careful to note that his analysis does not determine whether vouchers caused the higher graduation rate or attracted students who were more likely to graduate, but he is pretty confident that the voucher students do graduate at higher rates.  the public school officials are not so convinced: “You have to take into account things like mortality, and the number of students who move to another school,” St. Aubin said.

Mortality?  Is that a plausible explanation for the difference?  Warren’s method is similar to earlier work that Greg, Marcus, and I have done in estimating graduation rates and while not absolutely precise is likely to be reasonably accurate.  A forthcoming analysis by the School Choice Demonstration Project led by my colleague at the University of Arkansas, Pat Wolf, and with which I am involved will be able to examine this issue tracking individual students over time.

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