UW-Whitewater professor’s study shows open enrollment, student achievement connection
WHITEWATER A study by a University of Wisconsin-Whitewater professor finds that school districts which see a noticeable drop in student population during Wisconsin’ s open enrollment program often get an increase in student achievement the year after, reports a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article by reporter Erica Breunlin.
David Welsch, assistant professor of economics at UW-Whitewater, said study results suggest schools competing for students might push to improve their standing after losing students by raising performance levels, according to the article.
Wisconsin’s open enrollment program, now over a decade old, lets parents send their children to any public school district if they pay for transportation and space is available at the school.
The study looked at 420 Wisconsin school districts in three grades and analyzed district-level data on standardized achievement tests.
Welsch said the study couldn’t conclusively prove the idea that competition drives schools to improve student achievement, but based on factors in the study, the connection seemed likely.
He said study results also suggest schools have more control over keeping the students they currently have rather than trying to attact students from other districts during open enrollment.
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