the US Department of Education's Reports on DC Vouchers (2007-2010)
Using a Voucher Did Not Improve Student Academic Achievement.
The use of a voucher had no statistically significant impact on overall student achievement in math or reading.
In all four years of the study, the use of a voucher resulted in no statistically significant improvement in reading or math for “students who applied from schools in need of improvement (SINI), the group Congress designated as the highest priority for the Program.”
The use of a voucher had “no impacts on math achievement for any of the six subgroups examined.”
In all four years of the study, students who used the voucher and who either entered the program from a SINI school or, who entered the program in the lower one-third of the applicant test-score performance distribution showed no improvement in reading.
Ultimately, three subgroups of students (females, students entering the Program from non-SINI schools, and students entering the program with test scores in the higher two-thirds of the applicant test-score performance distribution) who used the voucher may have shown improvement in reading. But, “those findings may be due to chance,” are possibly “false discoveries,” and “should be interpreted with caution.”
Source: 2010 U.S. Dep’t of Ed. Report at xv, 35-40; 2009 U.S. Dep’t of Ed. Report at xviii, xxvi, xxiv-xxx, 35, 40; 2008 U.S. Dep’t of Ed. Report at 34-38; 2007 U.S. Dep’t of Ed. Report at xviii, xx, 44, 46.
D.C. Vouchers Fail Students with Special Needs.
In all four years of the study, students in the program were less likely “to attend a school that offered special programs for students who may be academically challenged.” They “experienced a lower likelihood that their school offered special programs for students with learning problems,” and “special programs for English language learners.”
21.6% of the parents who rejected a voucher that was offered to their child did so because the school lacked the special needs services that their child needed. 12.3% of the parents who accepted a voucher for their child but then left the program cited a lack of special needs services.
Source: 2010 U.S. Dep’t of Ed. Report at xxiv-xxvi, xxvii, 19-20; 24-26; 55-57, 60.
D.C. Vouchers Have Not Improved Student Motivation and Engagement or the Educational Experience.
Students offered vouchers were “less likely to be in schools with special programs for advanced learners.”
In each year these factors were evaluated, participation in the program had no statistically significant impact on students’ reports of student aspirations; engagement in extracurricular activities; frequency of doing homework; reading for fun; or tardiness rates. In addition, students who participated in the program may actually have been more likely to be absent from school.
Participation in the program also resulted in no greater access to before- or after-school programs and no positive impact on the student-teacher ratio.
In all four years of the study, students in the program were also less likely to attend a school with a cafeteria facility, a nurse’s office, counselors, and art programs.
Source: 2010 U.S. Dep’t of Ed. Report at xxvii,19-20; 56-60; 2009 U.S. Dep’t of Ed. Report at xxxii, 55-56; 2008 U.S. Dep’t of Ed. Report at xxvi, 57-58, F-6.
Using a Voucher Has Had No Impact on Student Reports of Safety or Satisfaction.
In all four years of the study, the use of a voucher had no significant impact on students’ reports of school safety and climate. This is true for students overall and for all six subgroups of students.
In all four years of the study, the use of a voucher had no significant impact on student satisfaction with their school. This is true for students overall and for all six subgroups of students.
Source: 2010 U.S. Dep’t of Ed. Report at xvi, 44-52; 2009 U.S. Dep’t of Ed. Report at xxvi, xxviii, 44-45, 49-50; U.S. Dep’t of Ed. Report at 42-43, 50; 2007 U.S. Dep’t of Ed. Report at xx, I-4.
Parents of Students Who Entered the Program from SINI Schools Did Not Report Higher Ratings of School Safety or Satisfaction.
Parents in only one of the six subgroups — parents of students not from SINI schools — perceived improved safety and order in their children’s voucher school. It is noteworthy that the voucher did not impact the perceptions of the parents of students who entered the program from SINI schools.
Parents of students from SINI schools and parents of male students showed no statistically significant improvement in satisfaction with their child’s school. The findings of improved parent satisfaction from the other subgroups—with the exception of the subgroup of parents whose children entered the program from non-SINI schools— “may be false discoveries.”
Source: 2010 U.S. Dep’t of Ed. Report at xvi, 44-46, 48-50.
The Vast Majority of D.C. Voucher Students Attend a Faith-Based School.
- In 2008-2009, 54% of the participating schools were faith-based. 80% percent of the students in the program attended a faith-based school.
Source: 2010 U.S. Dep’t of Ed. Report at 17-18.
Entry Into the D.C. Voucher Program Decreases Student Access to Key Services.
% of students in the program whose schools have the service as compared to students not in the program:
ESL Programs - 25% fewer
Learning Support/Special Needs -18% fewer
Tutors - 4% fewer
Counselors - 10% fewer
Nurse’s Office - 33% fewer
Cafeteria - 15% fewer