August 31, 2012
Report Confirms Lack of Accountability, Transparency in Voucher Program
Madison – Yesterday, the Legislative Audit Bureau released its analysis of a five-year study examining Milwaukee’s voucher program. Senator Chris Larson (D–Milwaukee) said that the Audit Bureau’s report confirms the methodology used by researchers was flawed and therefore the findings of the study are frustratingly inconclusive.
“Milwaukee’s voucher schools have never been held to the same accountability and transparency measures as our local public schools,” said Sen. Larson. “As a result, researchers were unable to get a true apples-to-apples comparison of student performance as much of the data about the students in the voucher school sample remains unavailable.”
The greatest flaws the Audit Bureau found related to the sample student populations used in the study. The number of voucher students and public school students that were tracked in the study totaled 2,727 each. However, voucher schools were unable to provide information crucial to the study, such as the ethnicity of 107 students, the gender of 119 students, the disability status of 1,152 students and the primary language status of 1,010 students. Further, 18.4% of test scores recorded by voucher schools were attributed to students that transferred from a voucher school to a Milwaukee Public School during the course of the study.
“Put simply, it may be easier to catch a Hodag than to get accurate facts from voucher schools,” said Sen. Larson. “Wisconsin’s taxpayers deserve real facts to determine if their investment is being spent wisely.”
For those looking to get a more precise snapshot of just how voucher school students are performing compared to their public school counterparts, they should look at data recently collected by the Department of Public Instruction. This data analyzes how all voucher and public school students in 4th, 8th and 10th grade performed in reading, math and science during the 2010-2011 school year. According to the data, Milwaukee Public School students outperformed voucher students in eight out of nine categories.
“It’s foolish to continue funneling over $55 million annually out of our children’s public schools without any measure of the value of this educational diversion,” said Sen. Larson. “I hope that this report will motivate the Legislature to re-examine the voucher program.”