State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
State law requires that the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) review test scores of pupils enrolled in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Privately funded researchers working on a five-year study of Choice and
The LAB reports, “The researchers have indicated that the project is the largest effort to date to compare the academic performance of pupils in voucher schools and public schools and that their sampling techniques are innovative and rigorous. Two of the principal researchers are nationally recognized, experienced researchers of voucher programs.”
The LAB has informed the Joint Audit Committee that I serve on that it has analyzed and confirmed the test score averages and related analyses that were provided by researchers. Scores for Choice and MPS sample students who were in the fourth through eighth grades during the 2007-08 school year and who also took the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination during the 2006-07 school year were reviewed.
For the reading section of the examination, the LAB reports, “No differences for pupils in the Choice and MPS matched samples were statistically significant at any grade level in the 2006-07 school year. However, the researchers reported and we confirmed that eighth-grade pupils in the Choice sample scored higher in the 2007-08 school year, on average, than those in the MPS matched sample, and this difference was statistically significant.”
For the mathematics section of the examination, the LAB reports, “The researchers reported and we confirmed that in the 2007-08 school year, fourth-grade pupils in the MPS matched sample scored higher, on average, than fourth-grade pupils in the Choice sample, and the differences were statistically significant in both that school year and the prior one.”
The LAB reviewed the average national percentile rankings of Choice pupils on the reading section of the nationally normed standardized tests. It found, “Fourth-grade pupils attending Choice schools scored in the 37th percentile of all pupils nationwide, eighth-grade pupils scored in the 36th percentile of all pupils nationwide, and tenth-grade pupils scored in the 40th percentile of all pupils nationwide. This means that approximately three-fifths of all pupils nationwide scored higher than Choice pupils.”
The project is ongoing. Here is the LAB’s report that also provides comprehensive background on the Choice program