A new study released this week by the Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences found that participation in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program “raised a student’s probability of completing high school by 12 percentage points, from 70 percent to 82 percent, based on parent reports.” The news is a victory for school choice and education reform advocates across the country. Patrick Wolf, lead researcher at the University of Arkansas School Choice Demonstration Project, said:
These results are important because high school graduation is strongly associated with a large number of important life outcomes such as lifetime earnings, longevity, avoiding prison and out-of-wedlock births, and marital stability.
In his inaugural address, President Obama described a test for government success:
The evidence is clear: school vouchers work for Washington, DC, students.
Unfortunately, the DC OSP is presently being phased out by Congress. Powerful lobbying interests including the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Washington Teachers Union have all opposed the program – and school choice more generally. Their opposition – and the millions they give to Congress each year – has resulted in the program being phased-out.
This is incredibly unfortunate. Matt Ladner notes over at Jay Greene’s blog:
In sum, the five-year evaluation of the DC voucher program has shown that low-income students who received scholarships have higher graduation rates, higher student achievement, increased parental views of safety, and increased parent satisfaction. There was not one single negative finding over the entire course of the evaluation. I’d say that’s quite a success for a program that spent a fraction of the per-pupil amount spent in DC public schools.
Read the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences complete analysis on the DC OSP here.
Michael Wille is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm