D.C. School Vouchers Are Found to Bring Lower Scores but Higher Safety

In Education On
- Updated

The examination of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, the only federally funded voucher program in the country, by the department’s Institute of Education Sciences, found that students who attended a private school through the program performed worse on standardized tests than their public school counterparts who did not use the vouchers.

Among students who attended poor-performing public schools — the targets of this and other voucher programs — there was no significant effect on achievement.

Researchers and experts said the report offered a valuable, if limited, snapshot of the program that was based on a one-year study of 1,700 students — 995 who were selected through a lottery to receive scholarship offers, and 776 who were not.

. . .

The report adds to mounting evidence that voucher programs across the country, which are often seen as an alternative to inferior public schools, are producing mixed academic results. Recent examinations of programs in Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio and Wisconsin have drawn similar conclusions.

On a positive note, families who participated in the Washington program reported that their private schools were safer by a large margin. They also had slightly higher satisfaction rates with their private schools, though researchers deemed that gap statistically insignificant.

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Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program Impacts After One Year


Read full DC vouchers report

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