Thursday, April 27, 2017
Negative Impacts of the DC Private School Voucher Program
A new study finds that the nation’s only federally-funded private school voucher program for low-income parents had negative impacts on student achievement. However, the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) did have positive impacts on parents’ perceptions of safety at their child’s school.
The Institute of Education Sciences released a report today (April, 27th) entitled: Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Impacts After One Year. The report, from the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), assesses the program’s effects on test scores and other outcomes measured a year after about 1,800 eligible applicants entered lotteries in 2012, 2013, or 2014 to determine who received a private school scholarship.
Key findings include:
• The OSP had a negative impact on mathematics achievement after one year. Math scores were lower for students who were offered or used OSP scholarships, compared to students that applied for but were not offered scholarships. There were no statistically significant impacts on reading scores overall or on reading or math scores for students applying from low-performing schools, to whom the federal act establishing the scholarships gave priority. However, there were negative impacts on both math and reading scores for students who were not applying from low-performing schools and for students in grades K–5.
• The program did not have an impact on parents’ or students’ general satisfaction with the school the child attended in that first year. The percent of parents giving their child’s school a grade of A or B was not statistically different when comparing parents of students who were offered or used OSP scholarships with the parents of students not selected for the scholarship offer. There were also no statistically significant differences when looking at student satisfaction with schools.
• The program had a positive impact on parents’ perceptions of safety at the school their child attended in that first year. Parents of students who were offered or used OSP scholarships were more likely to indicate that their child’s school was “very safe,” compared with the parents of students not selected for the scholarship offer. Student perceptions of school safety were not significantly different between the groups.
• The OSP did not have an impact on parent involvement in education overall. However, for parents of students in grades 6–12, the program had statistically significant positive impacts on involvement in education-related activities and events at home after one year.