Evolution of the Impact of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Final Report

Patrick Wolf, Babette Gutmann, Michael Puma, Brian Kisida, Lou Rizzo, Nada Eissa, and Matthew Carr
Institute of Education Sciences
June 2010

This is the final report of a four-year evaluation of the not-quite-dead-yet D.C. voucher program. If you recall, year three’s positive results were released last year right around the time the program lost federal funding. (Find year two results here.) Those positive results have largely dissipated—this final report finds that overall reading and math scores were not significantly impacted by participation in the program after at least four years (some students have been in the program longer), though to be fair, the impact falls just short of statistical significance in reading. But a D.C. voucher did significantly improve a student’s chance of graduating: The mere offer of a voucher raised by twelve percentage points the probability of a student graduating and by twenty-one percentage points the odds of those who actually used the voucher (i.e., took it to a private school). Parents of voucher-receiving students were also significantly more satisfied with their private schools and thought the schools much safer than parents of control group students. For a rigorous gold-standard study—the type that usually finds “no effects” for anything—this is not too shabby. If only Congress had paid attention. Read the results here.

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