At least she is consistent. Yesterday, the Washington Post’s Emma Brown, along with newcomer declared that a study has found a negative impact on academic achievement for those students participating in D.C.’s Opportunity Scholarship Program. The report found that in reading and math for students in Kindergarten through fifth grade, the pupils on average scored significantly lower than those who had applied for a scholarship but did not receive one. For older kids, there was no difference in reading but the math deficit remains. The findings were produced by the U.S. Department of Education’s research unit looking at standardized test scores. Sounds like this story should be on the newspaper’s front page. But are you ready for this?,
The study looked at results one year after these low-income scholars joined the program.
From the article, let’s see what the experts say about the results.
“Martin West, a professor of education at Harvard, said the D.C. study adds to an emerging pattern of research showing declines in student achievement among voucher recipients, a departure from an earlier wave of research — often on smaller, privately funded scholarship programs — that skewed more positive.
‘I think we need to be asking the question: Why is this happening and what should we make of it and should we care?’ West said. He said weaker scores among voucher recipients may be a result of the fact that public school performance is improving, particularly in the District, where math and reading scores at traditional public and public charter schools have increased quickly over the past decade.”
I know Mr. West is from Harvard, but let’s listen to local hero Kevin Chavous who actually knows what is happening on the ground. Again, from the piece by Ms. Brown:
“”These are kids that come from some of the most challenged backgrounds, and they’re just getting adjusted. It’s no question that the longer they’re in our schools, the better they do,’ Chavous said. ‘We have to look at the ultimate judge of the quality of the program, and that’s the graduation rate and the college-going rate.’ Chavous said the voucher program gave disempowered parents something they lack in many other parts of their lives: control.”
Students from the OSP have a high school graduation rate of 92 percent, compared to a 70 percent rate citywide. 86 percent have been accepted to a two or four year college or university.
The academic achievement of those participating in the voucher program is important, but this statistic needs to be measured over time for those enrolled in private schools. If for some reason it is found that students are not learning at an acceptable rate, then the program will be improved to make this goal a reality.