Scores aren’t higher for Milwaukee voucher students

Milwaukee voucher students score lower in math and the same in reading as similar public school students, according to new state test results.  Math proficiency averaged 34.4 percent for voucher students, who come from low-income families, compared to 43.9 percent for low-income district students. Reading proficiency averaged 55.2 percent for voucher students, 55.3 percent for low-income public school students. (The voucher students are slightly poorer.)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wants to drop enrollment caps and income limits for the voucher program, which allows children to attend private schools, including many religious schools.

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  1. It is clear that all school systems are broken be they public, private, choice or chance. When we finally understand this, we can move toward the systemic change that is needed to help students truly learn as well as help teachers take back their profession.
    When NCLB put a strong emphasis on the artificial standardized test several major changes were made that did damage to the system of education. First, schools began, or continued to rank students based on a singular means of assessment. What a surprise as we are now learning that when someone is ranked first, mathematically someone must be ranked last. The first go to college while the last are pushed out of school and into a subclass for the rest of their lives. With this knowledge it becomes evident that schools help to create th class system.
    Secondly, with he emphasis on the test, teachers have been forced to abandon their professions and teach to the test. Educating young people and teaching to the test are two different things. Educating means learning for the future. Teaching to the test is about winning, getting the highest test score possible by any means possible. The result of the latter is “book learned” students without a lick of common sense.
    The solution to the problem requires an overhaul of the education system that is not for the faint of heart. However, if you don’t want to give the same speeches fifteen years from now, the effort for systemic change must go forward. My book, “Saving Students From Shattered System” has the details including the dominoes that will fall as well as the building blocks to replace them. If we continue the same path we will continue to fail. It is mathematically impossible to educate all children under the current system.
    What we are doing to kids is not just unethical, it is immoral. The time is now to advocate for this change. Contact us at http://www.WholeChildReform.com and pass the word to all you know. The time for systemic reform is now!
    Cap Lee
    Milwaukee

  2. (Lee): “Educating young people and teaching to the test are two different things.
    Prove it.
    Any proof would involve some ranking (measurement) of outcomes.
    A measure is an order relation on a set.
    A test is a procedure or device for establishing a measure.
    A standard is a unit of measurement.
    A standardized test is a test which expresses its result in terms of a standard.
    Standards facilitate inter-group comparison. Teachers in the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel’s State-monopoly school system shun objective evaluation of their work as vampires shun sunlight.
    The State cannot pay for a good or service without a definition of that good or service. In the education industry, that definition takes the form of standardized tests. There is one reasonable alternative: the most reliability accountability mechanism that humans have yet devised is a policy which gives to unhappy customers the power to take their business elsewhere.

  3. tim-10-ber says:

    Malcolm: “There is one reasonable alternative: the most reliability accountability mechanism that humans have yet devised is a policy which gives to unhappy customers the power to take their business elsewhere.”

    The challenge is the kids that are most impacted by today’s broken education system have no other choices. Many of them in effect get screwed by a broken system year after year after year.

    Why do kids who enter school without the foundation they need to be successful not get additional time to catch up with their peers? Pre-K does not work past 2nd grade unless the student has an engaged/supportive family? Why are kids advanced grade after grade after grade that cannot read or do math beyond the 3rd grade level? Why are teachers/administrators setting these kids up to fail? Why are teachers setting up their fellow teachers to fail because they do not educate the kids? Does anyone truly assess the kids when the enter kindergarten to understand “where they are and what they need”? Is this type of in-depth assessment done each year to make sure the kids are in the right level by subject?

    Why do we continue to have grades? Why are kids not allowed to move forward in a subject once they have demonstrated mastery? (Yes, through an assessment.) Why are kids that haven’t demonstrated mastery advanced which just means they tend to fall further and further behind?

    We, thankfully, had the option to flee the broken government system. Most people cannot afford to go to private school or move to a county with good schools. Don’t these kids/families deserve a high quality education too?

    Unless these schools that take the vouchers do whatever it takes to it bring the kids up to grade level (or until they can get the kids to grade level) we will see lags in tests scores.

    This doesn’t mean vouchers are wrong…the testing system needs to be changed.

    Yes, I am in favor of standardized test and their being used as a way to measure teacher effectiveness, too. Just need a better way to give the kids a chance…

    Yes, we need to re-do the way many kids are educated today. The suburban and rural schools may be okay but so many of the urban schools are struggling…

  4. The suburban schools that are “okay” or better are that way because of the kids and parents; almost all public schools use the same, awful curricula and weak instructional methods that are taught in all the ed schools. Private tutors, Sylvan, Kumon etc. exist because there is a need for them. Suburban parents also tutor and provide supplements to what the kids get in school. I certainly put more red pencil on my kids’ papers than all of their teachers combined, because the schools put little or no effort into teaching grammar and composition.

  5. (Tim): “The challenge is the kids that are most impacted by today’s broken education system have no other choices. Many of them in effect get screwed by a broken system year after year after year.
    Yes. If you look through and past the tabular statistics on NAEP percentile scores, graduation rates, certified teachers, etc. into the human reality, you see thousands of kids on meat hooks, being flayed alive to make lampshades for system insiders’ living rooms. Sorry, but the monsters who inflict this on children who have done them no harm deserve…
    There aren’t words.

  6. Matthew Ladner says:

    This is a one year snapshot, and many kids transfer into the choice program after things are not working out for them in the publics. We need a comparison of academic learning gains. The last random assignment comparison across time for voucher lottery winners compared to losers found small but cumulative gains for the voucher students which become statistically significant in year three.

    It is also worth noting that the voucher schools receive about what half of what MPS receives in revenue. We know that the graduation rates from the voucher program is significantly higher than MPS, and it costs half as much. When and if we get an updated gains analysis, I think we will once again see that the voucher program produced better results at a lower cost. Watching some voucher opponents hailing a simiplistic analysis which shows, at worse, that vouchers spend half as much and get the same academic results is quite amusing.

  7. I live in in Milwaukee. When I read this story earlier in the week in the Milwaukee Journal, I noticed the data. For MPS, only 30k students scores were included. MPS has a bit over 80k students. So, data for less then 50% of the students was included. Given the high absentees rates at MPS, I would guess on average, those kids chronically absent – who are more likely to not have been tested – also score lower then those who show up. I think that is a fair guess. So, The MPS scores presented are higher then they would be if they tested all students (as is implied).