November 21, 2017

Jeanne M. Powers, (480) 965–0841,
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

Survey does not add to our knowledge about school choice in Indiana, review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Nov. 21, 2017) — A recent report published by EdChoice attempted to examine parents' experiences with school choice in Indiana through a survey. Hanover Research compiled the survey results with the report authored by staff at EdChoice, an advocacy organization that favors school choice. An academic review of the report finds problematic data and weak statistical analyses that limit the usefulness of the report for policymaking.

Jeanne Powers, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University, reviewed the report, Why Indiana Parents Choose: A Cross-sector Survey of Parents' Views in a Robust School Choice Environment, for the Think Twice think tank review project. Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), is funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Based on the survey, the report claimed that parents were highly satisfied with voucher and tax credit scholarship programs. Moreover, the report suggested that the findings support the expansion of school choice programs.

Powers writes that the findings from the report should be cautiously interpreted, because parent-satisfaction survey data almost always yield strongly positive findings. She also notes that a large sector of the population in Indiana do not participate in school choice.

In a review of the report, Powers finds that the report falls short in several ways, including:

  1. The survey utilized three incompatible data collection methods;
  2. The statistical analyses are too week to draw clear conclusions;
  3. The report seems designed to advance an agenda rather than provide substantive answers to important policy questions; and
  4. It provides little new information about parents' experiences with their children's schools.

In her conclusion, Powers writes: "While organized using the format of a research study, the report's failure to ground its analyses in the broader research literature, employ conventional sampling techniques, and provide relevant statistical details renders the report of little value for advancing educational policy and practice."

Find the review by Jeanne Powers on the GLC website:

Find the EdChoice report on the web at:

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review can also be found on the NEPC website:

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

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