Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Shenanigans on Jay Greene

There’s a blurb in the May 7th Education Week on a new study done by the frequently wrong Jay Greene. His analysis of his own report:

“Our results from evaluating Florida’s McKay program provide additional evidence that rather than being harmed, public schools respond to the challenge of exposure to school choice by improving the education they provide.”
See? School choice works, vouchers are good for kids, the free market will indeed solve all, and Keynes deserves to be in the same pantheon of education gods as Dewey, Kozol, and Vgotsgy. But wait a minute....

McKay Scholarships are available for students with individualized education programs, which are required under federal law for students with disabilities. The vouchers let recipients attend public schools of their choice or private schools that accept the vouchers.
Are you getting a sense, then, of why schools that have a lot of kids leaving with McKay vouchers might be seeing an increase in test scores?

I’m sure that if I bothered to read the report (The Effect of Special Education Vouchers on Public School Achievement: Evidence From Florida’s McKay Scholarship Program) I’d find an awful lot about isolating variables and controlling for factors and ANOVA and the many other statistical tricks that can be used to make a point, but I have a feeling that the gut-level instinct is all I really need on this one.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ryan. You might want to read the report because it clearly describes how the analysis tracked the performance of individual students over time. So a change in the aggregate scores caused by some students leaving would not affect the results.

I hope the report is written in accessible language and that the statistical techniques illuminate more than they obscure.

After reading the study I look forward to a productive discussion of the implications for education policy.

4:15 AM  

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