School vouchers and student achievement: Reviewing the research – from the Journalist’s Resource 

“Vouchers have been neither the rousing success imagined by proponents nor the abject failure predicted by opponents,” say the authors of the NBER paper, which was led by Dennis Epple of Carnegie Mellon University. The programs show “no consistent, robust pattern.”

Amid such a heated debate, journalists should be mindful of who is presenting voucher research. Studies can be massaged to bolster the claims of one side or the other. Education policy researchers Christopher Lubienski and T. Jameson Brewer of the University of Illinois single out Ed Choice — the advocacy group founded by Milton Friedman — and warn that it over-emphasizes research that is not as strong as it suggests. Some of the findings that Ed Choice presents as bolstering the case for vouchers leave out caveats explicitly flagged by the authors themselves. “Advocacy based on this research is misguided and should be based on potentially stronger claims,” Lubienski and Brewer write in a 2016 study for thePeabody Journal of Education. “[T]he empirical results are relatively modest at best, and sometimes negative, not to mention incoherent and contested.”

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