Thursday, May 9, 2013

ALEC ‘Report Card’ Gets ‘A’ for Ideological Fealty, Fails on Research Quality

The recent education “report card” on the states put out by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) claims to rely on “high quality research” but gets a failing grade in a new review.

Professor Christopher Lubienski and doctoral candidate T. Jameson Brewer, both of the University of Illinois, reviewed ALEC’s 18th Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review is published today by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

The ALEC “report card” assigns its grades based on states’ policies regarding their support for charter schools, their implementation of school voucher plans, and the permissiveness they display toward homeschooling.

“The authors contend that these grades are based on ‘high quality’ research demonstrating that the policies for which they award high grades will improve education for all students,” Lubienski and Jameson write. Instead, the “report card” draws on the work of advocacy groups and is grounded in ideological tenets, leading the authors to assign high grades to states “with unproven and even disproven market-based policies,” the reviewers add. They point out that the authors’ claims of “a growing body of research” lacks citations; their grading system contradicts testing data that they report; and their data on alternative teacher research is “simply wrong.”

“In fact, the research ALEC highlights is quite shoddy and is unsuitable for supporting its recommendations,” Lubienski and Jameson conclude. “The report’s purpose appears to be more about shifting control of education to private interests than in improving education.”

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