Academics look back at Governor Thompson’s School Choice Legacy
Milwaukee… Academics have confirmed what tens of thousands of parents already know: The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program works. Today, at the Tommy@30 symposium at the state capitol, Dr. Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas and Dr. John Witte of the University of Wisconsin reviewed what the academic research has shown about the Milwaukee choice program. As the chart below shows, out of 11 gold standard studies on the program, 10 have shown that students in the MPCP outperform their peers at Milwaukee Public Schools (one study showed no significant difference).
Along with other academics involved with the School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP), Wolf and Witte followed a sample of students in MPS and MPCP for a period of six years. These students were matched along demographic, geographic, and socioeconomic dimensions to create the closest approximation possible of an experiment. At the Thompson celebration, they presented research highlighting some of the key findings of the SCDP. These findings are highlighted below:
SCDP KEY FINDINGS
These findings have been backed up by more recent research by WILL that shows that students in the MPCP outperformed their peers in public schools in both math and reading on the Forward Exam when appropriate ‘apples-to-apples’ comparisons are made. We also found that MPCP students score about 7.7 percent higher on the ACT than MPS students, a difference that could determine whether a student gets into college or not in some cases.
Despite the howling of critics, school choice has worked for thousands of families in Milwaukee. Without Governor Thompson’s leadership, thousands of poor Milwaukee parents may not have better educational opportunities for their children. There’s more work to be done. That will always be the case. But it is important to take this moment and recall that where we are today is because of those with the courage and resolve to take a chance, create an experiment, and empower parents.