- In Utah, the reported 99% success rate of a preschool program backed by Goldman Sachs and designed to help at-risk kids avoid going into special ed programs is being questioned.
- Nine early-education experts hired by The New York Times to review the program reportedly found a number of irregularities in its success metrics, resulting in Goldman's "overstating" of the investment's impact on young children.
- Some have called the public-private partnership model “a new way of financing public projects.”
Goldman Sachs received a per-child payout based on success rates. In general, the New York Times reports, all pre-K programs help kids avoid special ed.
The paper also highlights the fact that the 99% success rate was based on a “faulty assumption” that kids in the program were going to need special ed, “despite there being little evidence or previous research to indicate that this was the case.” The children were tested using an exam that isn’t usually used to determine whether or not they might need special ed in the future. One senior scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute called such a correlation “ridiculous.”
Similar to privately operated charter schools, the use of public-private partnerships like social impact bonds to fund educational programs has been contentious, largely due to questions around accountability and metrics related to success and impact. Yet the partnerships are widely seen as a "win-win" for both the investing private sector and the public school students who benefit from the investment — though most are still works in progress.