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Florida Voucher Findings: Unimpressive So Far

In case you missed it, BoardBuzz last week highlighted an article from the St. Petersburg Times describing some ho-hum academic results coming out of Florida's school voucher program.

As part of the state-ordered study, researcher David Figlio analyzed changes in standardized test scores from the 2006-07 to 2007-08 school year for more than 9,000 students taking part in the program. He found that the program students, for the most part, were doing no better and no worse than their counterparts in public schools.

BoardBuzz sees the findings as further evidence of vouchers' ineffectiveness. That may well turn out to be the case, but Figlio notes in his study that it's "inappropriate" to draw any conclusions about the efficacy of the program now.

That's because the standardized tests were not a required part of the state's program until 2007-08. Researchers had to gather test results from private schools after the fact for the 2006-07 school year, which was difficult to do and resulted in incomplete data.

The researchers will really need at least one more year of testing data in order to decide whether the program is working, Figlio says. His evidence also suggests program participants were more likely to be disadvantaged and low-performing at baseline than non-participants.

So we'll wait and see. In the meantime, you can read Figlio's interim study and decide for yourself.

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