School Choice Demonstration Project Visits Milwaukee Choice Schools
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The School Choice Demonstration Project based at the University of Arkansas on May 11 completed site visits to six private high schools participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program as one of the final steps in completing its five-year longitudinal evaluation of school choice and educational improvement in Milwaukee.
The School Choice Demonstration Project, which includes researchers from Arkansas, Wisconsin and elsewhere, is named in Wisconsin state law as the official evaluator of the school voucher program.
The purpose of the school visits was to better understand the real-world context in which education is delivered in Milwaukee high schools and to learn about school best practices. Private schools participating in the school choice program welcomed the research team into their schools, and a wealth of information was gained regarding how they serve their challenging school populations, said principal investigator Patrick J. Wolf of the University of Arkansas.
Although four public high schools in Milwaukee had initially agreed to host school visits by the research team, the leadership of the Milwaukee Public Schools subsequently prohibited the researchers from visiting any public schools.
"We are greatly disappointed that the leadership of the Milwaukee Public Schools closed the doors of Milwaukee's public schools to our research team," Wolf said. "The public school principals on our advisory board have repeatedly urged us to see the educational process in person, in their schools, but, unfortunately, the public school administration wouldn't allow that to happen."
The School Choice Demonstration Project's evaluation of school choice and educational improvement in Milwaukee has produced 28 reports thus far, all available at http://www.uaedreform.org/SCDP/Milwaukee_Research.html.
The Milwaukee research project will conclude with the release of a set of final reports in the spring of 2012.
Patrick J. Wolf is professor of education reform and holder of the Twenty-First Century Chair in School Choice in the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas.