An interesting non-finding

One of the big problems in science is that non-results are rarely reported. I was interested to read this report of a study by the US General Accounting Office which found that claims of superior performance by for-profit schools could neither be supported nor rejected on the basis of existing studies.

While the companies publish year-to-year comparisons of standardized test scores to indicate that students in schools they manage are making academic gains, they do not present data on comparable students who are not in their programs,” the report said. It also faulted the studies for not testing students both before and after the private company’s takeover, and for not controlling for demographic variations among groups of students.

The one exception was a report on an Edison school in Florida, which met the standard for scientific rigor, but showed “no difference between students in the company’s program and other students,” the report said.