NEPC Review: SCDP Milwaukee Evaluation Report #29: MPCP Longitudinal Educational Growth Study Fifth Year Report and SCDP Milwaukee Evaluation Report #30: Student Attainment and the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program: Final Follow-up Analysis and SCDP Milwaukee Evaluation Report #32: Milwaukee Longitudinal School Choice Evaluation: Annual School Testing Summary Report 2010-11
Milwaukee’s voucher program, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), was created by state legislation in 1990 and enables low-income residents of the Milwaukee Public School district (MPS) to enroll at taxpayer expense in private schools that have been certified by the state Department of Public Instruction. The School Choice Demonstration Project at the University of Arkansas released in 2012 the final reports based on its five-year longitudinal growth study of this voucher program. The following reviews are of three of these reports: Report #29 compares voucher and MPS elementary and middle school test-scores; Report #30 compares graduation and post-secondary enrollment and persistence rates of MPS and MPCP students; and Report #32 compares test performance of MPCP and MPS students in grades 4, 8 and 10 in reading, math, and science. The reviewed reports use largely sound methods, but the data they assemble provide little to support the 22-year-old school voucher program. To some extent, this is because of specific methodological or analytical shortcomings. But it's also because the data and the reports simply fail to demonstrate that voucher schools are associated with improved outcomes.