Virtual School Meanderings

November 8, 2019

Report About Homeschooling Overreaches On Claims

Another notice of that recent National Education Policy Center review.

November 4, 2019

Report Advocates Privatizing Schools Overseas, But Without Convincing Evidence

Another notice on this National Education Policy Center think tank review.

October 31, 2019

Contact:
William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Frank Adamson: (916) 278-4639, adamson@csus.edu

Report Advocates Privatizing Schools Overseas, but Without Convincing Evidence

An NEPC Review funded by the Great Lakes Center

Key Takeaway: Little support is provided for claims in ideologically biased report.

EAST LANSING, MI (October 31, 2019) – A new report, Beyond the Mirage: How Pragmatic Stewardship Could Transform Learning Outcomes in International Education Systems, prescribes a shift in the leadership role of education ministers – from providers and guarantors of education to pragmatic stewards of education systems.

Frank Adamson, of California State University, Sacramento, reviewed the report and found that its use of questionable evidence and possible conflicts of interest were enough to “render the report’s recommendations unsubstantiated.” While the report appears to have strong funding behind it, no information is available about the publisher or organization producing the publication.

Focusing on the organization of education sectors in the Global South, the report contends that this shift from “provider” to “steward” will address the need for higher quality education, rather than simply providing access to education. The “pragmatic stewardship” advocated in the report involves strategies that increasingly incorporate private actors. Accordingly, the report draws on four case studies of different types of private-sector involvement in education as examples of a recommended broader shift by education ministers.

Professor Adamson argues that all four cases contain limitations – some discussed, others not – that undermine their suitability as successful examples of divesting public education systems of their primary role as guarantors and providers of education.

Moreover, while the report claims to be “non-ideological” and “beyond the mirage” of the education privatization debate, the funders of the report have a material stake in a main program cited as evidence, raising concerns about conflicts of interest. For these reasons, Professor Adamson concludes that education ministers should “take the suggestions in this report with a grain of salt.”

Find the review, by Frank Adamson, at:
https://www.greatlakescenter.org/

Find Beyond the Mirage: How Pragmatic Stewardship Could Transform Learning Outcomes in International Education Systems, written by Katelyn Donnelly, Arvind Nagarajan, and Ross Lescano Lipstein, at:
https://www.seeingbeyondthemirage.com

NEPC Reviews (http://thinktankreview.org) provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/

About The Great Lakes Center
The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform. Visit the Great Lakes Center Web Site at: https://www.greatlakescenter.org. Follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/greatlakescent. Find us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GreatLakesCenter.

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October 23, 2019

Manhattan Institute Report Fails To Muster Solid Evidence To Support Vouchers

Another release from that National Education Policy Center thinktank report review.

October 22, 2019

Contact:
William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Joel Westheimer: (613) 265-8077, joelwestheimer@mac.com

Manhattan Institute Report Fails to Muster Solid Evidence to Support Vouchers

An NEPC Review funded by the Great Lakes Center

Key Takeaway: Report’s argument for funneling public funding to private schools is based on weak, biased, or irrelevant research.

EAST LANSING, MI (October 22, 2019) – A recent Manhattan Institute report argues that the idea of what constitutes a “public” school should be expanded to include private schools that receive public funding. The report also contends that public funding for education should in fact be divided between traditional district public schools, charter schools, and private schools, with funding decisions based on student enrollment. Expansion of funding, it concludes, will result in greater choice for all students and will improve the quality of education.

Joel Westheimer of the University of Ottawa reviewed The Case for Educational Pluralism in the U.S., and found several serious problems. The report, he explained, is plagued by a lack of evidence, flawed logic, and a failure to consider differences in economic, social, political, and regulatory contexts. He also noted that the report’s central argument originates primarily from “conceptual perspectives” rather than empirical research.

The empirical studies the report does use are drawn primarily from religious and school choice advocacy groups. Also, the well-designed and peer-reviewed studies it uses lead to conclusions only loosely tied or entirely unrelated to public funding of private schools.

Professor Westheimer concludes that, while the report may prove useful for those who seek a rhetorical appeal for public funding of a private school education, it offers little useful to policymakers whose goal is to improve access to quality schools.

Find the review, by Joel Westheimer, at:
https://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find The Case for Educational Pluralism in the U.S.written by Ashley Rogers Berner and published by the Manhattan Institute, at:
https://media4.manhattan-institute.org/sites/default/files/R-0719-ARB.pdf

NEPC Reviews (http://thinktankreview.org) provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: https://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/

About The Great Lakes Center
The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform. Visit the Great Lakes Center Web Site at: https://www.greatlakescenter.org. Follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/greatlakescent. Find us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GreatLakesCenter.

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at https://www.greatlakescenter.org/

October 18, 2019

Report Reaches To Detect Some Benefits Of Vouchers

Another press release about that National Education Policy Center think tank report review.

October 17, 2019

Contact:
William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
T. Jameson Brewer: (678) 910-2744, jameson.brewer@ung.edu

Report on Vouchers Struggles to Find Claimed Benefits

An NEPC Review funded by the Great Lakes Center

Key Takeaway: Measuring voucher success using educational attainment produces lackluster results at best.

EAST LANSING, MI (October 17, 2019) – A recent Urban Institute report brings together certain findings from studies of three school voucher programs. The report concludes that students using vouchers to attend private schools sometimes have higher rates of college enrollment and completion than their public school counterparts. Here’s how Urban Institute researchers summarized these studies in a piece they wrote for Education Next (published in March):

[A] series of Urban Institute papers…found that participating in private school choice usually increased the rate at which students went to and graduated from college. The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program offers the one exception, as students in this program were no more or less likely to go to college. They were, however, more likely to graduate high school, and parents reported higher levels of satisfaction.

But a new review points out that the Urban Institute is, at the very least, putting a problematic spin on the college-attainment research. T. Jameson Brewer, of the University of North Georgia, reviewed The Effects of Means-Tested Private School Choice Programs on College Enrollment and Graduation. He explains that, of the three voucher-programs studies—in Washington DC, Milwaukee, and Florida—only the latter study shows clear benefits. Yet that Florida study was previously shown to have clear comparability problems (comparisons of apples to oranges).

As noted in the above Education Next excerpt, no benefits whatsoever could be teased out of the Washington DC data. And the Milwaukee results were decidedly mixed and again could not sufficiently account for potentially pivotal differences between choosers and non-choosers. Only the Washington DC data were based on randomized assignment (a lottery) – and, as noted, that study showed no college attainment benefits.

Professor Brewer notes two other concerns with the report. First, the literature review places an unbalanced reliance on non-peer-reviewed sources. Second, the report attempts to “move the goalposts” away from the test-score outcomes that have been the center of voucher advocacy and debate for decades—coinciding with recent voucher studies finding null or negative effects on test scores.

These shortcomings, Brewer concludes, render the report of limited value for evaluating voucher policies.

Find the review, by T. Jameson Brewer, at:
https://greatlakescenter.org/

Find The Effects of Means-Tested Private School Choice Programs on College Enrollment and Graduation, written by Matthew Chingos, Daniel Kuehn, Tomas Monarrez, Patrick J. Wolf, John F. Witte, and Brian Kisida, and published by the Urban Institute, at:
https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/100665/the_effects_of_means-tested_private_school_choice_programs_on_college_enrollment_and_graduation_2.pdf

NEPC Reviews (http://thinktankreview.org) provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: https://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/

About The Great Lakes Center
The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform. Visit the Great Lakes Center Web Site at: https://www.greatlakescenter.org. Follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/greatlakescent. Find us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GreatLakesCenter.

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June 27, 2019

Fixing The Morass Of Special Education Funding

Another announcement about that NEPC report that was released this week.

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