June 8, 2018

For Your Consideration

Researchers from North Carolina State University released a new working paper on the impact of North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program on student achievement where they found “large positive impacts associated with voucher usage in North Carolina.”

This program “provides state-funded vouchers of up to $4,200 per year for eligible students in kindergarten through twelfth grade to attend participating private schools.” To assess impact on math and reading, the researchers recruited 698 students from public and private schools to take the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, a nationally-normed standardized assessment in spring 2017. A matching approach was “utilized to maximize comparability between the public and private school student samples.”

Recent studies of vouchers in Indiana, Louisiana, Washington, DC, and Ohio have found large negative effects, so this study presents an interesting counterpoint. The researchers caution that the results should not be taken to establish causation, however.

“It may be the case,” says the analysis, “that the North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program truly has a positive impact on student achievement, perhaps because it reaches highly economically-disadvantaged students who have few school choice options in the absence of the program and perhaps the highest potential for academic growth, as a result.” The researchers consider other possibilities, including research design and whether the test used “unfairly advantaged the private school students.”

The Other 49

Two interesting articles came out this week about other states’ approaches to the opioid crisis and STEM education.

The Hechinger Report published an article about a pilot program in Oklahoma designed to get more students and teachers excited about STEM careers. The program gives teachers a paid, two-week externship with companies in STEM fields. The goal is to give teachers real-life experience in STEM fields that they can take back to their students. The program will expand from five teachers to 18-20 teachers this summer.

Route Fifty published an article about West Virginia’s recent announcement that it will distribute naxolone, the over-dose reversing drug, to first responders across the state in an effort to combat the opioid crisis. West Virginia’s DHHS purchased a $1 million supply of naxolone and has identified high-priority counties where local authorities will get 1,000 doses each. You can read about North Carolina’s approach to the crisis in this week’s Weekly Insight.

Need to Know

The myFutureNC Commission will be in Kannapolis on June 14th. The commission will share information on its work at 2:30 pm, meet in small groups for discussion at 3:00 pm, and hold a panel discussion on the K-12 through community college perspective at 4:15 pm. RSVP for the afternoon’s listening session here.

After the listening session, EducationNC will be hosting a gathering at restaurant Forty Six. Doors open at 5:00 pm, with the event at 6:00 pmFood and drink will be provided. EdNC invites you to come talk with our Reach NC Voices team and tell us what “Attaining the Dream” in North Carolina means to you.

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