Indiana Survey Fails in Its Attempt to Inform School Choice Policy Discussions

BOULDER, CO (November 21, 2017) – Why Indiana Parents Choose: A Cross-Sector Survey of Parents’ Views in a Robust School Choice Environment, authored by Andrew D. Catt and Evan Rhinesmith and published by EdChoice, presents results from a survey of K-12 parents within and across the public and private sectors.

Jeanne Powers, Professor at Arizona State University, reviewed the report and found significant problems with both the methods used to conduct the survey and the data analysis.

The report concludes that parents are highly satisfied with voucher and tax credit scholarship programs. The authors suggest that the findings support the expansion of school choice programs. However, even setting aside problems with the study’s data and methods, parent-satisfaction survey data almost always yield strongly positive findings. In fact, one underemphasized finding in this new survey is that substantial proportions of public school families—the largest constituency of K-12 parents in Indiana—did not participate in private school choice programs because they are happy with their current schools and want to support public schools.

But more importantly, Professor Powers finds that the survey and analysis fall short in four ways. First, three incompatible data collection methods were used to collect small samples of non-representative groups of Indiana parents. Second, the statistical analyses are too weak to draw clear conclusions. Third, while organized like a conventional research study, the report appears to be designed to advance an agenda rather than provide substantive answers to important policy questions. Finally, the report provides little new information about parents’ experiences with their children’s schools.

Thus, the report provides little useful information about school choice in Indiana or about public support for school choice programs.

Find the review, by Jeanne M. Powers, at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-indiana-choice

Find Why Indiana Parents Choose: A Cross-Sector Survey of Parents’ Views in a Robust School Choice Environment, by Andrew D. Catt and Evan Rhinesmith, published by EdChoice, at:
https://www.edchoice.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Why-Indiana-Parents-Choose-2.pdf

NEPC Reviews (http://thinktankreview.org) 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: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

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: http://nepc.colorado.edu