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Study: Indiana Voucher Students Not Making Grade in Math

New research suggests the goal of improving academic performance has not been realized yet among Indiana charter schools.
New research suggests the goal of improving academic performance has not been realized yet among Indiana charter schools.
August 13, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – New research into Indiana's school voucher program reveals academic progress may not be on par with expectations.

Researchers from two universities – Notre Dame and Kentucky – examined the standardized test scores of more than 3,000 low-income students who switched from public to private school during the first year of the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program.

Study co-author Joseph Waddington, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation at the University of Kentucky, says researchers found the math scores of voucher students in private schools dropped compared with their peers who stayed in public schools.

"It didn't matter whether a student was male or female, whether a student was white or black, whether or not they were a special education student or not,” he states. “All students across the spectrum experienced these losses in mathematics."

The losses continued four years into the program.

On English tests, Waddington says there was no clear difference between voucher students and public school students.

Proponents of voucher programs say over time the programs help to improve academic success, and can have a positive influence on outcomes later in life.

But Waddington says it appears the goal of improving performance has not been realized in Indiana.

"From the public interest policy perspective, this was something we wanted to take a look at,” he explains. “And looking at things like longitudinal test scores are pretty ripe for the picking with regard to some initial forays into what's going on with this program."

Last year, Indiana spent more than $150 million on its voucher program, which is the largest in the country.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN