School Voucher Report Uses Shaky Methods to Misrepresent Research

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Key New NEPC Review Takeaway: Questionable methodology and misrepresentation of the research result in a misleading report not useful for decision-making or research purposes.

A recent report from EdChoice presents itself as a yearly updated list and synthesis of empirical studies exploring the impacts of school vouchers across a set of outcomes. But a new review of the report finds that it fails to provide a robust summary of the research literature on vouchers and their full range of positive and negative impacts.

T. Jameson Brewer, of the University of North Georgia, reviewed The 123s of School Choice: What the Research Says About Private School Choice: 2019 Edition.

EdChoice’s report attempts to convince readers that a solid body of research evidence shows voucher benefits such as an increase in test scores, parental satisfaction, increased civic values, improvements in racial segregation, and fiscal benefits through governmental cost savings.

What Dr. Brewer found instead was a limited collection of cherry-picked studies, largely from non-peer-reviewed sources, and primarily authored by voucher advocates. The report’s misrepresentation of the existing research, combined with its use of the questionable methodology of simply counting up results categorized as positive or negative, results in an overall appearance of stacking the deck to create an illusory compilation of studies that profess to bolster EdChoice’s predetermined commitment to cheerleading school vouchers.

Find the review, by T. Jameson Brewer, at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/school-choice

Find The 123s of School Choice: What the Research Says About Private School Choice: 2019 Edition, written by Andrew Catt, Paul DiPerna, Martin Lueken, Michael McShane, and Michael Shaw, and published by EdChoice, at:
https://www.edchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/123s-of-School-Choice.pdf

Find Documents:
Publication Announcement: nepc.info/node/9832
NEPC Review: nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/school-choice
Report Reviewed: edchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/123s-of-School-Choice.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), 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: https://nepc.colorado.edu

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William J. Mathis

T. Jameson Brewer
University of North Georgia
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