School vouchers expand despite evidence of negative effects

For the past couple of decades, proponents of vouchers for private schools have been pushing the idea that vouchers work.

They assert there is a consensus among researchers that voucher programs lead to learning gains for students – in some cases bigger gains than with other reforms and approaches, such as class-size reduction.

They have highlighted studies that show the positive impact of vouchers on various populations. At the very least, they argue, vouchers do no harm.

As researchers who study school choice and education policy, we see a new consensus emerging — including in pro-voucher advocates’ own studies — that vouchers are having mostly no effects or negative effects on student learning. As a result, we see a shift in how voucher proponents are redefining what voucher success represents. They are using a new set of non-academic gains that were not the primary argument to promote vouchers.

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School Choice Increases Social Segregation and Inequity in Education

A new OECD report, Balancing School Choice and Equity, shows that school choice policies have increased social and academic segregation between schools which, in turn, reduced equity in education. Australia is a prime example of the impact of choice on social segregation. School choice has been at the centre of education policy for the last 20 or more years. Australia now has one of the most socially and academically segregated school systems in the OECD and has highly inequitable education outcomes.

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School Autonomy in England Fails to ‘Unleash Greatness’

The UK Government promised to ‘unleash greatness’ in English schools with its radical school autonomy plan to convert all schools to independent academies. A new comprehensive review of the experience with academies shows the plan is failing. It concludes that academies are an imperfect way to address the challenges faced by struggling schools and their students and that school autonomy has clear limits as a school reform strategy.

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OECD Says That Competition in Education Has Failed

The OECD has issued a damning verdict on education policies that promote competition between schools. Its latest PISA in Focus brief
says bluntly that the PISA international test data shows that more competition has failed to improve student results and has increased social segregation between schools. Continue reading “OECD Says That Competition in Education Has Failed”

No Success for Independent Public Schools

Independent public (IP) schools in Western Australia have failed to improve student results according to a new report by a bi-partisan WA parliamentary committee. It also found that the introduction of IP schools has increased inequalities and created a ‘two-tiered’ education system.

The findings are a major blow to Coalition governments around the country which have made increasing school autonomy a central policy plank. Several recent overseas studies have also found little impact from increasing school autonomy over budgets and staffing.

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School Choice is No Guarantee to Improve Results

School choice does not necessarily deliver better results for students according to a new research brief. The brief reviewed research on various alternatives to public schools in the United States and found that the impact of school choice on student learning generally shows mixed results with studies typically showing little or no difference in overall performance compared to traditional public schools.

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School Autonomy Is Not The Same as Teacher Autonomy

In the debate over school autonomy, what frequently gets lost is that school autonomy is different from teacher autonomy and that it is teacher autonomy that is the more important factor for classroom learning. Teacher autonomy means collective professional autonomy.

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The Battle Over New Orleans Charter Schools

In the weeks around the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina at the end August, there was a veritable storm of reports and comments disputing the outcomes of the re-organisation of the New Orleans public school system following the hurricane. The heart of the issue was the effects from turning New Orleans into virtually an all-charter school city.

New Orleans is the biggest charter school experiment in the United States. Its proponents claim it has boosted student results and have put it forward as a model for other jurisdictions to follow. Others vehemently reject the claims.

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For-profit Schools Have a Bad Record

David Leyonhjelm, Liberal Democrats senator for NSW, wants to introduce for-profit schools in Australia. It would be a huge mistake.

For-profit schools have a very bad record. They have failed to provide better student outcomes than other schools and often deliver worse results. Many have gone bankrupt leaving students in limbo and facing massive debts.

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More Bad News for Independent Public Schools

A new report suggests that the faith placed in independent public schools to improve student results is misplaced. The report, published last month by the UK National Foundation for Education Research, found that academy schools (which are an English version of independent public schools) perform no better than traditional public schools.

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