Exempting mandatory testing from students receiving vouchers

Third graders using vouchers need not pass reading test

Synopsis: OH public and charter school third-graders are required to take a state reading test. Failure on the test means they can’t graduate to the fourth grade.

But kids receiving vouchers to attend private schools do not have to take this test. Even though just over 36% of them would probably fail the test.

Advocates of vouchers say that they are the solution for students stuck in poorly performing public schools. So it seems to me that testing of such students would be a very high priority. Improvements in test scores would be the kind of evidence you’d want to beat your opponents over the head with. Yet the whole testing thing was supposedly overlooked in the law. At least that’s what officials are saying.

But I’m inclined to agree with Congressman Fedor when she says the “oversight” was intentional. And someone else agrees with her:

If you’re in favor of vouchers, how do you feel about exempting voucher students from testing? If it doesn’t bother you, how would you go about assessing standards in schools accepting public money? And why would you accept looser standards from those schools versus public schools?

My first thought about vouchers is that they should cover less than the per-student cost to the school system, so that those who use vouchers would be contributing to the quality of the public school system by increasing its $/student ratio. I don’t know whether this is the case.

Dodd’s argument has some validity, in theory. With public schools, parents have little choice and little power over the school system and how it educates their children. The standardized tests would ideally provide some insight into a school’s performance, and attaching $ to results gives the system an incentive to perform well. On the free market, ideally, parents can make rational choices based on accreditations or private testing, and schools are incentivized on that fairly obvious basis.

I’m a big advocate of “If you want to improve something, measure it.” But I’m also aware that you get what you measure, not what you want. I do worry that the standardized tests force schools to focus too much on training for the tests rather than inspiring students and their senses of curiosity and creativity.

A disadvantage of letting voucher schools off the hook is that you wouldn’t be able to compare their results with your public schools (assuming you think that the test results are meaningful.) Of course, if enough parents were concerned about this, then voucher schools would be incentivized to submit to the standard tests.

It’s a tough nut. A really tough nut. I suspect a lot of real world details interfere with achieving the ideals mentioned above, and I really don’t know what would be best.

I might not: I might demand tighter standards, by demand accreditation from a private firm.

In reality, the most rigorous and highly regarded independent schools often build their curriculum around high quality exams (International Baccalaureate, Cambridge, various European bacs, etc.) Well designed assessments can be extremely valuable tools not just for testing, but for teaching.

I think it’s fine if they don’t want to take the state assessment, which often is poorly designed, but they should have to take some recognized assessment that can be compared across school. How can it be “choice” if there is no public ally available criteria for choosing?

I applaud the idea.

Private schools are held accountable by the market.

Except when they’re taking public money, right?

I do not consider it a better idea to have the 36% of kids attending school via vouchers take an exam that the other 64% of students do not have to take.

From my perspective, a voucher supplants the theory that public money is being used. Technically, it comes from tax revenue, but is spent at the discretion of the parents. This market-based approach is why I applaud charter schools and a voucher-based education system.

I have read this three times and I still can’t make sense of what you’re saying.

I don’t know enough about how Ohio does vouchers. I know that private K-12 schools vary wildly in how good they are, with some basically being sham schools that don’t really educate kids at all and/or ones being far right fundamentalist Christian equivalents of extremist Madrasas. What that tells me is voucher receiving schools should have to be accredited in some way to filter out those nonsense schools. Should they be required to give the same State exams as the public schools? I’d say not necessarily, as long as the accreditation scheme is done honestly I’d say it’s up to the parents and the private schools to determine the best means of evaluating student progress.

Maybe you misunderstood the issue. These are mandatory tests that public school students are required to take and pass to move on to the next grade. But there’s a loophole that allows students receiving vouchers to skip the test. So it’s the exact opposite of what you described.

That’s a strange line of reasoning. Would you also argue that welfare payments are not public money because while they technically comes from tax revenue, they’re spent at the discretion of the recipient?

It wouldnt bother me, except for the fact that public schools, public school teachers, and public school students are being judged so harshly on these same tests. It’s a double standard. If the legislators care so much about the “success” of third graders, it shouldn’t matter which school they’re enrolled in.

To Walmart it doesn’t matter if that dollar is welfare or income, they still have to compete for it. This is what I meant.

You pressed me on the issue that students paying for private school through vouchers should still take the standardized tests taken in public schools. Because they use public money. I reject that, because private schools are held accountable through the market. The students on vouchers who are fortunate enough to get into a private school, do not need to be singled out and given the insert inane state exam here, to the scoff of their classmates.

I’m torn on this. While I favor testing, kids wind up in voucher schools that parents have made an assessment that the school is better. They probably look at things like entry into the next level of education and the quality of the schools the students get into. Yet, I do think it might be helpful to the general public to have those kids in the pool in order to better assess the public school kids.

Not really. Parents are voting with their dollars when they send their kid to a particular school. That is the market at work. Not so with your welfare payment.

The market is full of people who believe the sun revolves around the earth, which is only a few thousand years old. Why should public money be spent on shit like this?

If a private school feels it is too precious to allow someone to evaluate their performance using a standardized metric, they should also be too precious to accept voucher students.

If that’s you’re attitude towards the market, do you also take the same attitude towards public schools? They have lots of stupid people in them, so we should stop spending money on them?

I don’t necessarily disagree. I imagine the best private schools do not accept vouchers.

I fully endorse defunding a public school that advocates teaching the sun revolves a 6,000-year-old earth.

I fully endorse firing public school teachers who teach this garbage.

Thus–since I’m a somewhat consistent person–I am also against supporting private schools that teach said nonsense with public monies. And if they are dumb enough to argue that their curriculum is beyond reproach because MARKET, then I’m all for revoking their licenses.

Parents can vote with their own dollars all they want. But that’s not how vouchers work. Vouchers are a tax-funded government program just like welfare. Which means that as a tax payer I should have a say on how the money is spent.

No. The analogy you used was inapt. The way parents vote with their dollars is by choosing one school over another. The ones that don’t get chosen, go out of business.

As far as deciding where your money is going, it is still going to educate children. That doesn’t change.