ON-Lion Letter
In December, the University of ArkansasSchool Choice Demonstration Project released two new reports as part of its longitudinal study of the education marketplace in Milwaukee.
 
The purpose of the first report, Milwaukee Independent Charter Schools Study:  Report on One Year of Student Growth, according to its authors, is to "assess the effectiveness of independent charter schools in promoting two desirable student outcomes:  student achievement growth and educational attainment."  Led by the University of Wisconsin's John F. Witte, the team of researchers finds that, "[u]sing regression models that produce the most precise estimates of 2007 achievement, our comparisons of students in our sample of independent Milwaukee charters to matched [Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS)] students exhibit few significant effects of attending a charter school on achievement growth in either math or reading."

The Witte team did find "differences, however, when we disaggregate the charter impacts by charter school type.  Conversion independent charters, schools which converted from private schools, hold an advantage in math and reading achievement."

The second report, The Fiscal Impact of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program:  2010–2011 Update and Policy Options, by the University of Arkansas' Robert M. Costrell, updates previous analyses of the fiscal effects of the voucher program.  It examines the difference between the public funds expended on Wisconsin students, including those in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), and the amount that would have been spent without the voucher program.

"The net fiscal benefits of the MPCP have continued to grow," according to Costrell.  "The estimated increase was particularly sharp in FY10, from $37.2 million to $46.7 million.  This increase was primarily due to the cut in the voucher amount, while MPS' per pupil revenues continued to grow from $9,462 to $9,727, and secondarily due to MPCP enrollment growth.  For FY11, continuing growth in the MPS revenue limit to $10,013 will widen the gap with the voucher, raising the net fiscal benefit of the program from $46.7 million to $51.9 million, even assuming no growth in MPCP enrollment."

Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation supports SCDP's work in the city.
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