University of Arkansas education reformers receive grand prize for 'bunkum' in charter school reports | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

University of Arkansas education reformers receive grand prize for 'bunkum' in charter school reports

Posted By on Tue, Mar 3, 2015 at 9:07 AM

The National Education Policy Center, a Colorado-based institution that is frequently opposed to the so-called "reform" movement embodied by the Walton-financed Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, has issued its 2014 Bunkum Awards, which include a grand prize to the University of Arkansas for what it believes to be flawed research on charter schools.

For the record: I've heard similarly low opinions from the UA "reformers" about the National Education Policy Center.

The two pieces of work criticized by NEP:

* The UA issued a report claiming an expanding inequity in funding of charter schools and conventional public school districts. The NEP review said the UA report had made errors in assigning revenues among schools (in some places, for example, money passes through conventional districts to charters) and relied on "vague documentation." The NEP concluded the UA report was neither valid nor useful.

* Of more interest: The NEP also ripped a UA report that claimed superiority of charter schools for dollars invested, as measured by a comparison of NAEP scores and dollars received. The specific criticism:

The effects of charter versus traditional public schools are estimated by comparing state averages of both sectors without attempting to equate them on demographic variables like poverty (free lunch eligibility) or special-needs status. Not reported is the fact that the demographic differences between the two sectors are highly correlated with the estimates of differential effects; the sector with the higher percentage of poor pupils scores lower on the NAEP test. This failure alone renders the report and its recommendations indefensible.

The links will take you to the research done on the UA projects and also to links to the full UA reports themselves.

You can see other NEP "awards" at this link. It concludes with a knock of UA for "stunningly incompetent analyses."

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