Search results for: "National Education policy center"


The National Education Policy Center published a review of an annual report by EdChoice, an advocacy organization for vouchers.


Questionable methodology and misrepresentation of the research result in a misleading report not useful for decision-making or research purposes.


BOULDER, CO (June 11, 2019) – 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:

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:

NEPC Reviews ( 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:

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:

Bruce Baker of Rutgers University reviewed three policy briefs produced by the pro-charter, pro-choice Center for Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington and found them to be “generally superficial and misleading.” The apparent intent of these briefs was to influence the policy debate in California, in which Governor Newsom and the Legislature are considering whether to take into account the fiscal impact of charters on public schools. Baker’s review was sponsored by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado.


Reviewed by:

Bruce D. Baker University of Colorado Boulder

May 2019

Executive Summary

The Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), based at the University of Washington, Bothell, recently released a series of three policy briefs on the financial impact of charter schools on nearby school districts in California. The briefs arrive at a time when a Task Force convened by California Gov. Gavin Newsom is deliberating on these exact matters. CRPE’s founder, Paul Hill, was a key source of testimony to the task force, serving as an expert viewed as “sympathetic to charter schools.”

The three briefs make note of the task force in their introduction and are seemingly intended to inform these ongoing debates over charter school financing and expansion in the state of California. The briefs are as follows.

  • The first brief, Charter Schools and District Enrollment Loss, posits that charter school enrollment growth is not a significant factor in large district enrollment decline in California.
  • The second brief, Do Charter Schools Cause Fiscal Distress in School Districts?, argues that charter school expansion is not a significant contributor to fiscal distress (fiscal stress and/or fiscal impact) in California school districts.
  • The final brief, Do the Costs of California Charter Schools Outweigh the Benefits?, contends that there are “tangible benefits” and “few quantifiable costs” to charter schooling in California, though it does concede that a more thorough cost-benefit analysis is warranted.


The first brief acknowledges that over the long run, California charter school expansion has resulted in some district enrollment decline. But the brief contends that this decline has been modest and in recent years is no longer occurring. Further, the report asserts that whether charter schools expand or not, many districts will face continuing enrollment decline and “the financial challenges it brings” (p. 10).

The second brief lays out a set of figures showing charter school enrollment shares and comparing this to county-assigned classifications of district fiscal distress. It concludes boldly that (a) there is no relationship between charter enrollment share and host district fiscal distress; (b) instead, fiscal distress is most often caused by financial mismanagement; and (c) fiscal distress is too important to get wrong.

The third brief first asserts that there are benefits to, but few if any tangible costs associated with, charter schooling in California. Those benefits are illustrated by reports of differences in test score gains for children in some urban California charter schools versus matched peers in host districts. The brief also cites a handful of studies to support its contention that charter expansion also benefits, or at least does not harm, children in host district schools. Finally, it notes other potential benefits for children enrolled in charter schools, for which quantifiable values are more difficult to assign, including: “The option to choose” (p. 4).

On the potential-costs side of charter expansion, the third brief provides a short list, including, (a) lacking/losing economies of scale, (b) transfers/fiscal impact, (c) capital costs, (d) educating high-cost students, and (e) social cohesion and societal concerns. The authors then dismiss these five concerns, offering the conclusion that there are “few quantifiable costs to charter schooling” in California (p. 6). Yet they provide little analysis or reference to any valid, rigorous analysis by any other researchers.

Robin Lake, Ashley Jochim, Paul Hill, and Sivan Tuchman wrote these briefs and qualify their work with identical wording: “Given the time constraints for informing the commis- sion’s and legislator’s questions, we were limited to data available from earlier studies and from federal, state, and local databases, as cited in the three briefs” (p. 2 of each brief).

These limitations did impair the usefulness of the briefs, but other problems are also evi- dent. The first brief is misleading in its assertion that charter enrollment growth is not to blame for district enrollment decline. It is, and has been for some time, whether in districts with declining, stable or growing overall student enrollments. The brief also attempts to minimize the import of the considerable role played by charters in districts’ enrollment loss, offering up the non sequitur that enrollment loss can arise from other sources as well. The second brief relies on overly simplistic comparisons of charter enrollments and county-assigned “fiscal distress” classifications to conclude that there is no association between charter enrollments and fiscal distress. The contention here is that there can’t be an illness if the patient isn’t dead. In order to rely on this problematic approach, the brief erroneously dismisses a significant, more rigorous, detailed, peer-reviewed and published body of research that illustrates the fiscal impact of charter schools on host districts, and how those fiscal impacts may lead to fiscal stress. The third brief, which presents itself as an analysis of costs and benefits, merely touts the benefits of charter schooling as tangible while being entirely dismissive of numerous known and often measurable costs. Taken together, the briefs are useful only in pointing to some important issues that policymakers should consider; their analyses of those issues are, however, generally superficial and misleading.



Today the National Education Policy Center released its annual review of research on virtual charter schools. The bottom line was not good.

The title of the report is “Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2019.” It was double blind peer-reviewed.

The authors write:

The number of virtual schools in the

U.S. continues to grow.

In 2017-18, 501 full-time virtual schools enrolled 297,712 students, and 300 blended schools

enrolled 132,960. Enrollments in virtual schools increased by more than 2,000 students between

2016-17 and 2017-18, and enrollments in blended learning schools increased by over

16,000 during this same time period. Virtual schools enrolled substantially fewer minority

students and fewer low-income students compared to national public school enrollment.

Virtual schools operated by for-profit EMOs were more than four times as large as other virtual

schools, enrolling an average of 1,345 students. In contrast, those operated by nonprofit

EMOs enrolled an average of 344 students, and independent virtual schools (not affiliated

with an EMO) enrolled an average of 320 students.

Among virtual schools, far more district-operated schools achieved acceptable state school

performance ratings (56.7% acceptable) than charter-operated schools (40.8%). More

schools without EMO involvement (i.e., independent) performed well (59.3% acceptable ratings),

compared with 50% acceptable ratings for schools operated by nonprofit EMOs, and

only 29.8% acceptable ratings for schools operated by for-profit EMOs. The pattern among

blended learning schools was similar with highest performance by district schools and lowest

performance by the subgroup of schools operated by for-profit EMOs.

Given the overwhelming evidence of poor performance by full-time virtual and blended

learning schools it is recommended that policymakers:

• Slow or stop the growth in the number of virtual and blended schools and the size of

their enrollments until the reasons for their relatively poor performance have been

identified and addressed.

• Implement measures that require virtual and blended schools to reduce their student-

to-teacher ratios.

• Enforce sanctions for virtual and blended schools that perform inadequately.

• Sponsor research on virtual and blended learning “programs” and classroom innovations

within traditional public schools and districts.

There is much more in the report that deserves your attention, especially regarding the current infatuation with blended learning.

I suggest you read it for yourself.


Here is the citation:

 Molnar, A. (Ed.), Miron, G., Elgeberi, N., Barbour, M.K., Huerta, L., Shafer,

S.R., Rice, J.K. (2019). Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2019.  Boulder, CO: National Education Policy

Center. Retrieved [date] from .



The National Education Policy Center asks whether the tide has turned against vouchers.

i would argue in response to their question that there was never a tide favoring vouchers except among politicians who took campaign contributions from voucher supporters or who ideologically hate everything public.

No public referendum on vouchers has ever endorsed them. The latest was in Arizona in 2018, where two-thirds of voters opposed vouchers while re-electing a rightwing governor funded by the Koch machine.

Vouchers lost in Florida in 2012, despite the support of Jeb Bush, and despite the fact that the referendum was deceptively called a vote on “religious liberty.”

Vouchers lost in deep red Utah in 2007, overwhelmingly.

Indiana has the nation’s most expansive voucher program, but only 3.5% of kidsebrolled and most had never attended public schools. They were religious families looking for public. Only for their religious education.

NEPC sees other reasons toquestion the appeal or feasibility of vouchers.


“Late last year in Montana, the State Supreme Court struck down the state’s three-year-old neovoucher program, ruling against the constitutionality of tax-credit-funded voucher law because it funded private, religious education.

”In November in Arizona, voters rejected the proposed expansion of Empowerment Scholar- ship Accounts, state tax dollars that parents can use for home schooling, private schooling and other educational expenses. An audit by the state’s attorney general subsequently found that parents had misspent or attempted to misspend the funds on such expenses as cosmet- ics, non-educational music albums, and entry into a seasonal haunted house.

“A couple years before that, the Supreme Court in Nevada concluded that the state’s “Educa- tion Savings Account” voucher plan violated the Nevada constitution because of a funding mechanism that drew money away from public schools.

”In Colorado, in 2017, a slate of school board candidates funded by the American Federation of Teachers ousted a set of Koch-backed opponents who introduced a pilot school voucher program in a conservative Denver suburb.

“And at the national level, the Republican-backed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 may have the (almost certainly unintended) consequence of substantially reducing federal tax benefits for wealthy donors to neovoucher programs. Internal Revenue Service guidance on the matter is expected any day now, according to Carl Davis, a tax policy expert who is the research di- rector at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.”


Academic research has converged on a consensus: Kids who take vouchers get lower test scores.

Vouchers are on life support but they hang around because state courts packed with rightwing judges decided to ignore the plain language of their state constitutions.

They aren’t dead. But they drain money from public schools where there are certified teachers and where kids are not indoctrinated to Bible Belt theories.





In this post from the National Education Policy Center, you can see a long list of recent articles about the “reading wars,” which was spurred by a broadcast and article by Emily Hanford, complaining that students can’t read because teachers fail to teach phonics, which she says, is based on science.

When I saw Hanford’s article in the New York Times, making that claim, I reacted with a big “Ho hum, here we go again.” I wrote about the reading wars in my book “Left Back” in 2000. I thought that Jeanne Chall’s classic “Learning to Read: The Great Debate” (1967) had settled the matter. Yet here we are in 2018, Long after Rudolf Flesch’s “Why Johnny Can’t Read,” debating the same issues that gripped education researchers 70 years ago.

NEPC posts an interview with Elizabeth Moje, dean of the University of Michigan Education School, that has one stellar feature. Whenever she is asked to examine a claim about what “most teachers” are doing, she stops the conversation to say that no she ne knows what “most teachers” are doing.

I appreciate her care.

We have known for a long time that phonics must be a part of early instruction in reading. We also know that phonics only is not sufficient.

At a time when awareness is breaking through that our schools are underfunded, we have serious teacher shortages due to low pay, and class sizes in the Neediest districts are ballooning, let’s not get distracted by a phony war.

The National Education Policy Center released a report showing how school choice facilitates discrimination that is prohibited in public schools. There should be a basic principle for all publicly-funded schools, whether they are public schools, charter schools, or voucher schools: Where public money goes, public accountability must follow. Public money should not tolerate bigotry against students or staff of any kind.

When Publicly Funded Schools Exclude Segments of the Public

Key Takeaway: Policy brief analyzes discriminatory practices and possible legal protections in an era of education privatization.

NEPC Publication:

William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, Julie F. Mead: (608) 263-3405,

In Indiana, a private religious school receiving over $6.5 million in public funds via the state’s voucher program placed an LGBT counselor on leave because she had married her same-sex partner.

In Milwaukee, where students with disabilities constitute 12-20% of public school enrollments, they constitute only 2% of enrollments in private schools participating in the city’s voucher program. Similarly, charter schools enroll a lower percentage of students with disabilities (particularly more severe disabilities) when compared to traditional public schools. In response to these and other issues of access and discrimination, some defenders of these schools have argued that the schools have broken no laws—and they are often
correct. How can this be?

To answer that question, professors Julie F. Mead of the University of Wisconsin and Suzanne E. Eckes of Indiana University authored a policy brief, titled How School Privatization Opens the Door for Discrimination, which analyzes discrimination in an era of education privatization.

The brief’s review of relevant laws reveals that voucher and charter school programs open the
door to discrimination because of three phenomena.

First, federal law defines discrimination differently in public and private spaces.

Second, state legislatures have largely neglected issues of discrimination while constructing voucher laws; charter laws are better, but they fail to comprehensively address these issues.

Third, because private and charter schools are free to determine what programs to offer, they can attract some populations while excluding others.

After briefly examining the history of discrimination in schools, the brief analyzes each of these
three enabling factors and then outlines recent developments.

Finally, based on its analyses, the brief offers the following recommendations to help address the issue of publicly funded programs currently failing to serve all segments of the public:

1. Congress should amend federal anti-discrimination laws to clarify that states supporting charter schools and states directly or indirectly channeling public funds to private schools must ensure that those programs operate in non-discriminatory ways.

2. Federal agencies should explore whether governmental benefits should be withheld from private schools failing to meet non-discrimination standards.

3. State legislatures should include explicit anti-discrimination language in their state voucher laws to ensure that participating private schools do not discriminate against students and staff on the basis of race, color, sex, race, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, national origin, or primary language.

4. State legislatures should adopt or amend charter school laws to ensure that policies and practices are reviewed throughout the process of approval and renewal. Schools failing to attract and retain reasonably heterogeneous student populations should be directed to address the problem and should be considered for non-renewal if the problem is not corrected.

Find How School Privatization Opens the Door for Discrimination, by Julie F. Mead and Suzanne E. Eckes, at:

This policy brief was made possible in part by the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice (

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:

The National Education Policy Center published a review of a recent report about school finance, written by Rutgers Professor Bruce Baker, an expert in school finance. In the upside-down report, the states that spend the least and have the most charter schools get high rankings.

BOULDER, CO (November 27, 2018) –The Reason Foundation recently published a policy brief that offers an alternative ranking of states’ education systems. The brief, which was based on a working paper from the Department of Finance and Managerial Economics at the University of Texas at Dallas, purports to offer needed adjustments and nuance, but makes its own serious mistakes, according to a new review.

Rutgers professor Bruce D. Baker reviewed Everything You Know About State Education Rankings Is Wrong and the underlying working paper, Fixing the Currently Biased State K-12 Education Rankings. He found the analyses provided did little or nothing to advance the conversation about the effectiveness of state education systems.

The twin reports begin with the presumption that high average test scores combined with lower school spending should be the basis for state rankings, which are reasonable premises, depending upon how the analyses are approached. But the reports then head off the rails, Professor Baker explains.

Offering a ‘corrected’ representation of student outcomes and a crude analysis asserting that spending has no relation to those outcomes, the reports declare states such as New Jersey and Vermont to be poor-performing, highly inefficient systems by comparison to many states. The reports then estimate a regression model and assert that the higher performing states are those with (a) weaker teachers’ unions and (b) more children in charter schools.

However, Baker’s review details how the reports’ so-called corrections involved unreasonable and illogical assumptions and adjustments. For example, the reports re-weight racial and ethnic subgroups so that they inappropriately place equal weight in states like Vermont or Wyoming on students comprising 1 to 2% of the population as the other 98 to 99%. Other problems concern a decision to ignore economic status entirely and a poorly executed adjustment for cost of living.

Regressing multiple, highly related, interdependent measures against a specious outcome measure leads to even more suspect findings and, Baker concludes, would only mislead policymakers.
Find the review, by Bruce D. Baker, at:

Find Everything You Know About State Education Rankings Is Wrong, written by Stan J. Liebowitz and Matthew L. Kelly and published by the Reason Foundation, at:

Find Fixing the Currently Biased State K-12 Education Rankings, written by Stan J. Liebowitz and Matthew L. Kelly and published by the Department of Finance and Managerial Economics at the University of Texas at Dallas at:

The National Education Policy Center reviews Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record on education issues.

Based on his past decisions, he can be expected to oppose affirmative action policies, to oppose the wall of separation between church and state, to favor public support for religious schools, to endorse religious prayers in public schools, and to oppose any limits of the sale of assault weapons or any other kinds of guns.

Elections have consequences.

For those who said there was no difference between Clinton and Trump, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch are examples of the difference.

The National Education Policy Center recently issued a bulletin about the negative results of virtual charter schools. To see all the links embedded, open the NEPC report. Betsy DeVos wants more of these fraudulent “schools” to open.

It is no secret. The news media is full of reports about problems with cyber schools. Some recent examples include:

In January 2018, the nation’s largest virtual school, Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), closed. There was a subsequent failure to determine what happened to 2,300 of 11,400 students. The school shut down after the state of Ohio found that ECOT had overstated its enrollment by more than 9,000 students, resulting in a $60 million overpayment.

The Akron Digital Academy quietly closed last month because it could not repay the state the $2.8 million it owed for failing to correctly track enrollment. Akron Public Schools dropped its sponsorship of the school in 2013 due to problems such as poor student performance.

The state of New Mexico is in the process of shutting down the state’s largest virtual school, also for poor academic performance.

An Education Week resource, updated through 2017, includes hundreds of news stories, state audits, and reports about online schools, many highly negative, dating back to the early 2000s.

Some of the best and most updated information about these schools is provided in the NEPC’s Sixth Annual Report on Virtual Education, titled Full-Time Virtual and Blended Schools: Enrollment, Student Characteristics, and Performance. The report provides a census of the nation’s full-time virtual schools as well as institutions that blend online learning with face-to-face instruction. The report also includes student demographics, state performance ratings and, where available, analyses of school performance measures.

Michigan public radio station WKAR mentioned the NEPC report in a piece about another study that found that a quarter of the 101,000 Michigan students enrolled in online classes did not pass a single one. In an interview with the outlet, Gary Miron, author of the Virtual Education report, said: “We need a moratorium right now; we have to stop. No more growth for the schools; no more schools. The schools that are performing extremely poorly, we have to take sound steps to dismantle them.”

Ed tech-focused EdScoop devoted an article to the NEPC report’s findings, noting that: “While the average ratio in the nation’s public schools is 16 students per teacher, virtual schools reported having close to three times as many, and blended schools clocked in with twice as many.” In a piece about a rural school district that partnered with for-profit virtual education company K12 Inc., NBC News quoted the report’s finding that district-operated online schools tend to perform better than charter school versions. Yet the latter continue to dominate the sector. And despite the highly publicized problems with virtual schools, the sector continues to thrive.

“It’s rather remarkable that virtual schools continue to grow even while study after study confirms that these schools are failing,” Miron told NEPC. “Students are clearly being negatively impacted when they attend these schools, and revenues devoted to public school systems are being siphoned off to the private companies that dominate this sector.”
Why is this happening?

Based on interviews with more than a dozen policymakers, advocates, and researchers, a 2016 Education Week report concluded: The reasons are often a mix of weak state regulations, the millions of dollars spent on lobbying, and the support of well-connected allies.

The National Council on Teacher Quality is a conservative group created to make professional teacher education look bad. I was on the board of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation when it was started. It floundered a while, then got a $5 Million Grant from then-Secretary of Education Rod Paige to get its act together. It has done that. Now it is Gates-funded and is a darling of reformers, who yearn to replace the teaching profession with TFA temps and screen time.

Now the NCTQ has made itself the arbiter of “Standards” for teacher education, despite its lack of qualifications. It isssues an annual report for the media, informing them that very very few institutions meet their standards. Some major media take their ratings seriously, never asking who they are and how they have the chutzpah to rate every ed school in the nation, without bothering to visit any campuses. Linda Darling-Hammond described their first report stating that it was like a colllecyion of restaurant reviews based on menus, not on visits and tastings.

The National Education Policy Center reviewed the latest NCTQ report:

BOULDER, CO— The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) recently released its 2018 Teacher Prep Review. The report examines whether U.S. teacher preparation programs are aligned with NCTQ’s standards. This alignment, the report insists, will produce teachers “not only ready to achieve individual successes, but also [ready] to start a broader movement toward increased student learning and proficiency.”

The NCTQ report regularly garners generally credulous coverage from media outlets, including this year from Education Week and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Marilyn Cochran-Smith of Boston College, Elizabeth Stringer Keefe of Lesley University, Wen-Chia Chang of Boston College, and Molly Cummings Carney of Boston College reviewed the report for NEPC. The reviewers are all members of Project TEER (Teacher Education and Education Reform), a group of teacher education scholars and practitioners who have been studying U.S. teacher education in the context of larger reform movements since 2014. Their review found the report to have multiple logical, conceptual, and methodological flaws.

The report determines that most teacher preparation programs are not aligned with the NCTQ standards. Accordingly, it finds “severe structural problems with both graduate and alternative route programs that should make anyone considering them cautious.”

However, the report’s rationale includes widely critiqued assumptions about the nature of teaching, learning, and teacher credentials. Its methodology, which employs a highly questionable documents-only evaluation system, is a maze of inconsistencies, ambiguities, and contradictions. Further, the report ignores accumulating evidence that there is little relationship between the NCTQ’s ratings of a program and its graduates’ later classroom performance.
Finally, the report fails to substantively account for broad shifts in the field of teacher education that are nuanced, hybridized, and dynamic. It also exacerbates the dysfunctional dichotomy between university programs and alternative routes. For years now, researchers and analysts have pointed out that this distinction is not very useful, given that there is as much or more variation within these categories as between them. Ultimately, the report offers little guidance for policymakers, practitioners, or the general public.

Find the review, by Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Elizabeth Stringer Keefe, Wen-Chia Chang, and Molly Cummings Carney, at:

Find 2018 Teacher Prep Review, written by Robert Rickenbrode, Graham Drake, Laura Pomerance, and Kate Walsh and published by the National Council on Teacher Quality, at: