Getting It Wrong On School Choice

George Mitchell:

During the last year, three different reports have claimed to compare the academic achievement of students in the Milwaukee Public Schools with students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
Two conclude, erroneously, that MPS students outperform students in the choice program.
The third reaches far different conclusions.
The difference?
Two of the three, from Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Milwaukee-based Public Policy Forum (PPF), used deeply flawed methods to conclude that MPS students outperform those in the choice program. Page one stories in the Journal Sentinel validated these erroneous reports. The paper compounded the errors by wrongly suggesting that the DPI and PPF data allow individual schools to be evaluated.
The third report comes from the School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP) at the University of Arkansas and is based on rigorous methods. Its reports, including several issued today, draw starkly different conclusions from those advanced by DPI, PPF, and Journal Sentinel news stories.
Responding to widespread attention generated by the DPI and PPF reports, the experts at the University of Arkansas refute the validity of those reports and demonstrate why they provide neither a basis for comparing MPS and Milwaukee’s school choice programs nor for evaluating individual schools.