A study shows few performance differences between voucher students and those in Milwaukee Public Schools. UW-Madison's Dr. John Witte says the study shows no significant differences between students in Milwaukee Choice schools and Milwaukee Public Schools. "There is no overall statistically significant difference between the MPCP and MPS student achievement growth in either math or reading, one year after they were carefully matched to each other," said Witte. "Average achievement growth in MPCP tended to be somewhat higher than MPS, especially in math," he said, but added that the differences were not statistically significant.
Voucher students did not do as well as MPS students in fourth grade. In 8th grade, voucher students did a little better than MPS students in two out of three subjects. Deb Lindsey, director of research in the Milwaukee Public Schools, said she's not surprised by the findings – kids in all Milwaukee schools face enormous challenges. "Kids in Milwaukee, particularly kids in poverty, are underachieving," said Lindsey, something that was known even before the study began. Researchers compared the kids in the past two school years.
"It's clear to me that we are grossly failing the vast majority of our kids in this community right now," said Cory Nettles, a voucher supporter and founder of the Milwaukee Quality Education Initiative. "We have a moral obligation and responsibility to do better." Susan Mitchell, President of School Choice Wisconsin, saying failing voucher schools should be removed. "The reports indicate a wide variation of performance levels," noted Mitchell. "We should utilize existing means, and develop new ones, to remove low performing schools from the program."