Report Promotes School Choice by Inadequately Presenting the Evidence

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Key New NEPC Brief Takeaway: Report’s underlying assumption is that all choice is good and desirable as an end in itself, regardless of negative impacts on achievement and even equity.

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A new report from the Hoover Institution’s Education Success Initiative purports to offer evidence-based guidance for policymakers in shaping more equitable outcomes from school choice programs. However, Christopher Lubienski of Indiana University reviewed Toward Equitable School Choice and found that although the report is useful as a snapshot of the current status of choice programs in the United States, its use of research is often problematic.

The report is apparently a response to two ongoing concerns. The first is the choice movement’s ties to past segregationists seeking to avoid post-Brown integration efforts. The second is evidence of a continuing link between choice and inequitable opportunities. These concerns have caused choice advocates to instead highlight the theoretical potential of non-residential-based school choice programs to improve upon residence-based school assignments.

Professor Lubienski found some of the research in the report to be misrepresented, with several other claims being made without citations to evidence. Further, some of the recommendations bear no connection to the evidence provided in the report. As such, the report is, as intended, a political guidebook for conservative policymakers that fails to offer evidence-based guidance on making choice more equitable.

Find the review, by Christopher Lubienski, at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/equitable-choice

Find Toward Equitable School Choice, written by Paul E. Peterson and published by the Hoover Institution, at:
https://www.hoover.org/sites/default/files/research/docs/peterson_webready.pdf

NEPC Reviews (http://thinktankreview.org) provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/

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Michelle Renée Valladares

Christopher Lubienski
Indiana University
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