Review of far-right voucher study shows its main goal was propaganda, not objective research

A group called EdChoice said it studied vouchers. Experts say it regurgitated old information to advance privatization.

A report claiming more funding should be diverted from public schools to pay for unaccountable private school tuition is full of holes and doesn’t provide any new information, an academic review shows.

Read the Review

EdChoice (read about this outfit) published the report aimed to identify what motivates Indiana parents to choose their children’s schools. The report attempted to measure parent satisfaction with school voucher options in Indiana, and concluded that voucher parents were highly satisfied with their school options. The report also suggested that its findings supported expansion of school voucher programs.

The report had methodological issues and did not provide new information, and appeared to be an effort to advance a school choice agenda rather than provide an objective analysis on school choice,  according to a review by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC).

Among the problems, the majority of the parents surveyed for the study had either taken previous EdChoice surveys or were voucher parents, and public school parents were underrepresented in the study. Additionally, the report did not offer a comprehensive analysis of prior research on school choice and relied heavily on previous think tank advocacy pieces from the University of Arkansas.

Policymakers are urged not to use the report as a reason for expanding vouchers. Instead, it is recommended policymakers continue to find ways to strengthen public schools so all families have the option to attend high-quality schools that meet their families’ educational needs and goals.

Since 2011, Indiana has had a statewide voucher program that funds tuition and fees for participating private schools. In the 2016-17 school year, 34,299 or 2.9 percent of Indiana’s K-12 students participated in the program, and 55 percent of these students have not previously attended an Indiana public school.

The review was commissioned by NEPC with funding from the Great Lakes CenterWEAC partners with the Great Lakes Center to provide reviews of education-related studies. WEAC President Ron Martin sits on the Great Lakes Board of Directors and shares this academic review of a study of the Indiana school voucher program.

More new insights on vouchers from Education Week:

‘Precious Little Evidence’ That Vouchers Improve Achievement, Recent Research Finds

There’s been surging national interest in private-school-voucher programs with the Trump administration’s embrace of the idea. But newer research on large-scale voucher programs has complicated the debate over private-school choice-policies which allow families to use public money or aid to attend private schools, including religious ones. What does the research say?