Milwaukee Voucher Students Have Diploma Edge

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Thanks to the folks at the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition for passing on word of a study reported in Ed Week. Perhaps you will remember a series of stories a few months back on on a study of Milwaukee’s “school choice” program. The study supposedly stated that parents did not use the choice opportunity significantly.

Slight problem with that study and the reporting: The survey did NOT include parents in the Milwaukee choice program…

Hmm, golly, reporters getting a story wrong. Shocked. Yes, shocked.

Well, EdWeek gets this one right in an article entitled “Milwaukee Voucher Students Have Diploma Edge.”

Students who participate in Milwaukee’s private-school-voucher program graduate from high school at significantly higher rates than those who attend regular secondary schools in the city, a new study contends.

The report, which was scheduled to be released Jan. 28 by SchoolChoice Wisconsin, a group that supports the voucher program, concludes that an estimated 57 percent of the freshmen enrolled in private high schools in the choice program in 2002-03 had completed high school four years later, compared with an estimated 43 percent of those in the same 2006 graduating class in regular Milwaukee public high schools.

Analysis of the three previous graduating classes showed regular Milwaukee public high school students with significantly lower completion rates than those who chose to use the state tuition subsidies to attend private high schools.

Factoring in the effects of retention of some students in 9th grade, and of students’ movement into and out of the district, reduces the difference in graduation rates between the two sets of schools to about 10 percentage points for three of the four years, the report says. With those adjustments, it says, the Milwaukee public schools’ 2005-06 graduation rate was 53 percent, compared with 64 percent in the voucher-program schools.

The 17-year-old voucher program, enacted by the Wisconsin legislature, serves about 18,500 students in 122 private schools. About 87,000 students are enrolled in Milwaukee’s public schools this year.