Measuring choice

In a study of public school choice in San Diego, researchers found “such programs do seem to have helped to integrate San Diego’s student bodies, not only along racial-ethnic lines but also in terms of students’ parental education levels.” While choice programs are very popular, evidence of higher achievement is unclear, concluded the Public Policy Institute of California.

With some exceptions—elevated math achievement for students in magnet high schools — those who won lotteries that allowed them to attend choice programs did about the same on standardized tests as non-winners one to three years later.

Stuart Buck claims to be baffled by reaction to the study.

Educators often state in no uncertain terms that you can’t measure the value of education solely by looking at test scores. Education is about much more than filling in the right circles on a multiple-choice math test, they say. But whenever a study comes out showing that, contrary to a lot of previous research, kids in private or charter schools don’t necessarily have higher scores, some of the same people leap all over the news as proof that vouchers or charter schools are “not the answer.” It’s almost as if they switch their position on the validity of tests based on what’s politically convenient at the time.

Surely not.

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Comments

  1. Hunter McDaniel says:

    These studies also pose their questions as if choice had no intrinsic value of its own to parents. It’s as if we could only have the right to pick out our own groceries after first proving it would improve nutrition across the whole population, including disadvantaged groups which might prefer fatty foods.

  2. Cardinal Fang says:

    But whenever a study comes out showing that, contrary to a lot of previous research, kids in private or charter schools don’t necessarily have higher scores, some of the same people leap all over the news as proof that vouchers or charter schools are “not the answer.” It’s almost as if they switch their position on the validity of tests based on what’s politically convenient at the time.

    What a disingenuous comment. It’s “almost as if” the charter opponents are moving the goalposts? Yeah, well, it’s “almost as if” the charter proponents are doing the same thing.

    Charter proponents argue for school choice on the basis of superior academics, but when a study comes along that claims that charter schools don’t prepare kids academically any better than public schools, suddenly the charter proponents are all about racial and economic diversity.

  3. Indigo Warrior says:

    Hunter McDaniel:
    These studies also pose their questions as if choice had no intrinsic value of its own to parents. It’s as if we could only have the right to pick out our own groceries after first proving it would improve nutrition across the whole population, including disadvantaged groups which might prefer fatty foods.

    Choice does have intrinsic value. It allows parents to find a school that best fits the child on many levels. The public system is one without any choice, which makes no provision for individual need unless the child is in a PC preferred tribal group.

    Parents do have the right to choose schools, and the responsibility for making a poor choice.