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Parents Don't Care About Standardized Test Scores, and Experts Shouldn't Either

August 7, 2019 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis

Corey A. DeAngelis

They say you shouldn’t miss the forest for the trees.
Unfortunately, several people in the education policy debate are
doing just that. Researchers and journalists are focusing on the
effects of education policies on standardized test scores while
ignoring more important long-term outcomes such as crime and
earnings. That’s obviously a problem.

Here’s a case in point. Matthew Yglesias, co-founder of Vox, just quoted five rigorous studies
linking families’ schooling selections to student outcomes.
Yglesias quoted snippets from the five abstracts finding no change
in students’ test scores. The only problem is that he
completely omitted all of the positive effects on long-term
outcomes such as health, safety, crime reduction, and earnings.

Researchers and
journalists are focusing on the effects of education policies on
standardized test scores while ignoring more important long-term
outcomes such as crime and earnings.

For example, Yglesias cited a rigorous
study
of families’ schooling selections finding that
“on average, sought-after schools do not improve student test
scores.” However, perhaps unintentionally, he left out that
getting the chance to go to those same preferred schools reduced
teen pregnancies and improved “educational attainment,
occupational rank, earnings, and health.”

He cited another rigorous study finding that
families’ schooling selections had “no effects on
traditional outcomes.” However, Yglesias again forgot to
include the positive effects of those same selected schools on
students’ reports of safety.

But that’s not all.

Yglesias also cited an experimental
study
finding that students winning a lottery to attend a
public school of choice in Chicago didn’t provide “any
benefit on a wide variety of traditional academic measures,
including standardized test scores, attendance rates,
course-taking, and credit accumulation.” It’s
encouraging that he expanded this particular quote to include
non-test score outcomes here.

But, again, Yglesias somehow forgot to include the positive
effects of the same schools of choice on reducing
“self-reported disciplinary incidences and arrest
rates.”

This isn’t the first time someone has cited lackluster
test score results while completely omitting the important positive
effects of attending a chosen school. For example, reporters such
as Valerie Strauss focused on initial negative
effects of the D.C. voucher program on test scores without even
mentioning that the same study found positive effects on student
safety
.

We can all learn something important from these omissions. The
fact that the story changes substantially when long-term outcomes
are omitted tells us that standardized test scores are not good
proxies for true success in the long-run. My recent peer-reviewed summary of the evidence shows
that there are many more examples of disconnects between
schools’ effects on test scores and their effects on
long-term outcomes.

We should look …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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