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Voucher performance - not achievement but competition

posted Jan 24, 2012, 5:23 PM by Bill Duncan   [ updated Jan 25, 2012, 7:08 AM ]
P.4 of CEP study:

With the publication of more recent evidence showing no clear achievement advantage 
among students receiving publicly funded vouchers, the rhetoric used to justify vouchers 
has shifted. Although some voucher advocates continue to maintain that vouchers have 
been found to improve student achievement, others note that vouchers have not been 
found to harm the achievement of participating students and may increase public school 
performance through competition. In addition, some voucher advocates are highlighting 
the positive impacts of vouchers on graduation rates and parent satisfaction and the 
importance of providing choice as a right in itself. The following examples illustrate some 
of the current rhetoric of voucher supporters:

First off, 20 years in, it’s hard to argue that the nation’s biggest and most established 
voucher experiment has ‘worked’ if the measure is whether vouchers lead to higher 
reading and math scores. Happily, that’s never been my preferred metric for structural 
reforms—both because I think it’s the wrong way to study them . . . but, more 
importantly, because choice-based reform shouldn’t be understood as that kind of 
intervention. Rather, choice-based reform should be embraced as an opportunity for 
educators to create more focused and effective schools and for reformers to solve 
problems in smarter ways.
—Rick Hess, American Enterprise Institute, 20104

As an advocate of school choice, all I can say is thank heavens for the Milwaukee 
results. Here’s why: If my fellow supporters of charter schools and vouchers can finally 
be pushed off their obsession with test scores, maybe we can focus on the real reason 
that school choice is a good idea. Schools differ in what they teach and how they teach 
it, and parents care deeply about both, regardless of whether test scores rise.
—Charles Murray, American Enterprise Institute, 20115

The appeal of school choice centers around a belief that greater choice meets the 
desires of parents, and improves the quality of education by fostering innovation and 
competition.
—School Choice Task Force, Douglas County (Colorado) School District, 20106


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