The 18th edition of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform draws on ratings from market-oriented advocacy groups to grade states in areas such as support for charter schools, availability of vouchers, and permissiveness for homeschooling. The authors contend that these grades are based on “high quality” research demonstrating that the policies for which they award high grades will improve education for all students. This review finds that, contrary to these claims, ALEC’s grades draw selectively from these advocacy groups to make claims that are not supported in the wider, peer-reviewed literature. In fact, the research ALEC highlights is quite shoddy and is unsuitable for supporting its recommendations. The authors’ claims of “a growing body of research” lacks citations; their grading system contradicts the testing data that they report; and their data on alternative teacher research is simply wrong. Overall, ALEC’s Report Card is grounded less in research than in ideological tenets, as reflected in the high grades it assigns to states with unproven and even disproven market-based policies. The report’s purpose appears to be more about shifting control of education to private interests than in improving education.
Think Tank Review