April 29, 2008

Reading the literature fairly?

In his blog entry today, Jay Greene announces a Manhattan Institute study he and Marcus Winters wrote on special education vouchers and Florida. Since I'm running between meetings today, I haven't read it and won't comment on the substance, but there's an odd bit at the end of Greene's entry:

Like the bulk of previous research, including Belfield and Levin [and several other studies], ... the new study finds that student achievement in public schools improves as vouchers expand the set of private options.

Greene is referring to a 2002 review by Belfield and Levin in Review of Educational Research. I remembered it differently and went to the source, where the abstract says the majority of studies show positive effects. So far, so accurate. But here's the next sentence:

The positive gains from competition are modest in scope with respect to realistic changes in levels of competition. The review also notes several methodological challenges and recommends caution in reasoning from point estimates to public policy.

Was Greene's link appropriate in that context? I give leeway on blogs, but Belfield and Levin is far more cautious about voucher programs than Greene is, or rather Belfield and Levin's article has far more cautious conclusions than Greene implies.

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Posted in Education policy on April 29, 2008 1:16 PM |