A new study claiming that voucher students in New York City are outperforming their public school counterparts has been called into question.
Two weeks ago, voucher advocate Paul E. Peterson of Harvard University issued a study claiming that African American students taking part in a privately funded voucher program in New York did better academically than their public school peers.
But the company that gathered the data for the New York students in Peterson's research, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., has issued a statement calling Peterson's conclusions "premature" and saying the data shows no difference in academic performance between voucher and public school students.
"[S]tudents who were offered scholarships to attend private schools as part of one of the nation's largest private voucher programs performed about the same on standardized reading and mathematics tests as students who were not offered scholarships," reads the Mathematica press release.
Mathematica also notes that many of the poor parents who were offered vouchers did not use them because they still could not afford private school tuition or were unable to find a private school willing to accept their children.
Peterson's study was funded by groups that support vouchers. Peterson, himself an enthusiastic backer of vouchers, has been criticized by other researchers for not allowing his data to go through peer review prior to publishing.
"This is a stunning blow to voucher advocates," said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "They insist that vouchers will boost the academic performance of poor students. This study shows that even with vouchers many of the poorest student can't get into private schools, and even if they do, they perform no better academically."
Continued Lynn, "It's time to give up on the voucher fraud and focus on real solutions to help fix troubled public schools."
The full Mathematica report can be read at http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/voucherrelfinal.htm.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization represents 60,000 members and allied houses of worship in all 50 states.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.