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Mercedes Schneider: A Closer Look at the Unimpressive Academic Record of Florida Voucher Schools

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Recently Trump and DeVos gushed over the Florida tax credit voucher program and featured a graduate of one student who graduated from a voucher school.

This inspired Mercedes Schneider to look at the academic record of Florida’s voucher schools. It is not impressive.

Voucher schools are supposed to save students from failing schools. But most of the state’s voucher students do not come from F-rated schools or even D-rated schools. Most come from schools rated A, B, or C.

She looked at the school that produced the young woman who attended Trump’s first address to Congress. She is surely a fine young woman but her school is not. It is certainly no model of success.

She writes:

“Let us consider the gain scores of Esprit de Corps Center for Learning, the school that Denisha Merriweather attended via tax credit.

“In 2014-15 , 44 students completed assessments that produced gain scores. (The researchers cautioned about the stability of gain score results when the number of students tested is below 30. Thus, Esprit de Corps meets the 30+ test-taker condition.)

“In 2014-15, Esprit de Corps’ average gain score was -3.66 national percentile ranking points in reading and -13.52 in math.

Its average gain score from 2012-13 to 2014-15 (three years) was -0.65 national percentile ranking points in reading and -2.69 in math.

“In an effort to obtain more information on Esprit de Corps’ math gain score history, I consulted a few more FTC reports from previous years.

“According to the 2013-14 FTC report, Esprit de Corps fared better in 2013-14: 0.03 in reading (remember, a zero gain is right at the national average) and 6.9 in math (calculations based on 43 student assessments). However, its three-year average gain scores (2011-12 to 2013-14) in both reading and math were -0.65 and -2.69, respectively, which indicates lower gains in previous years, especially in math.

“In 2012-13, Esprit de Corps had only a slightly negative math gain score (-1.3), and a slightly positive reading gain (1.3). Still its three-year combined gain score in math (2010-11 to 2012-13) was notably negative (-4.3). Three-year reading was close to zero (0.3). (Score based on 47 student assessments.)

“In 2011-12, Esprit de Corps’ math scores were again especially low (-12.4), and its reading gains were also negative (-2.6) based on 47 student assessments. And again, its three-year average gain in math (2009-10 to 2011-12) was particularly low: -3.8. Its reading gain was negative but close to zero: -0.20.

“Esprit de Corps has an arguably established history of negative gains in math, as confirmed by its three-year scores from 2009-10-to-2011-12 to 2012-13-to-2014-15.

“This school-level reality complicates pitching Florida vouchers via tax credits as an across-the-board, superior public school alternative based on test score outcomes.

“Nevertheless, it seems that the push for vouchers in the DeVos era is one conveniently deaf to evidence and infused with the superiority of ideology.”

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