NEPC Review: Report Extolls "Course Choice" but Lacks Research to Support Its Premise

Fordham, scholars suggest, puts lots of little choice carts before the evidence horse

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http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-expanding-the-education-universe

No direct research is presented, and relevant related research that might support the efficacy of the method is not included.

Boulder, CO (PRWEB) June 19, 2014

A recent report provides guidelines for an expansion of school choice policies, urging policymakers to turn the selection of school classes themselves into a form of market competition, with each student choosing and designing a personal menu of classes.

The drawback to that idea, according to a new review, is that the report makes no effort to evaluate the underlying proposal before offering policymakers a “guide” for how to put it into effect.

Patricia Burch of the University of Southern California, along with Jahni Smith of USC and Mary Stewart of Indiana University, reviewed "Expanding the Education Universe: A Fifty-State Strategy for Course Choice" for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review is published today by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

"Expanding the Education Universe," written by Michael Brickman and published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, envisions a future when students design their own selection of online and off-line school classes. As the reviewers note, the report possesses a great deal of confidence that such a change would ease transportation and expand students’ options in many beneficial ways. Course providers for the proposed system could be for-profit as well as not-for-profit providers, including school districts and other public institutions.

But in offering a “guide” to solve practical problems of policy and implementation, the report acts with undue haste. It “assumes, without solid evidence, that course choice, electronic educational provisions, and the like are viable, effective, and proven methods,” the reviewers write.

“No direct research is presented, and relevant related research that might support the efficacy of the method is not included,” Burch and her colleagues point out. “Accordingly, the piece rests entirely on assumptions and assertions.”

Lacking the necessary evidence and detail to demonstrate that the proposal holds any promise, policymakers and the public should lack confidence in the report’s proposal. The report, the reviewers conclude, offers “little basis for assessing the benefits and liabilities of a program that potentially has enormous financial costs and educational quality implications for public education.”

Find the review by Patricia Burch, Jahni Smith, and Mary Stewart the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-expanding-the-education-universe.

Find "Expanding the Education Universe," by Michael Brickman, on the web at:
http://edexcellence.net/publications/expanding-the-education-universe-a-fifty-state-strategy-for-course-choice.

The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/.

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/lua4872


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  • Patricia Burch

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