This study looked at the demographics of the DC voucher program and found that the program funds primarily religious education and fails to serve students from schools in need of improvement and those in the poorest of DC’s communities.

Study Summary


The study evaluated outcomes in student achievement, safety, and satisfaction after four years in the DC voucher program. It found no statistically significant improvement in reading or math test scores between students who were offered a voucher and students who were not offered a voucher. It also found that students did not report improvements in school satisfaction or safety. 

Summary of All Four Department of Education Studies


The study evaluated outcomes in student achievement, safety, and satisfaction after three years in the DC voucher program. It found no statistically significant improvement in math test scores between students who were offered a voucher and students who were not offered a voucher. The study found reading achievement for some students (students from schools not in need of improvement and students who were already testing in the top two-thirds of the test-score distribution when they entered the program) but not for students from schools in need of improvement, which the program specifically targeted. Notably, the final study and prior two studies found no statistically significant improvement in reading for students who were offered a voucher versus those who were not.  It also found that students did not report improvements in school satisfaction or safety.

Study Summary


The study evaluated outcomes in student achievement, safety, and satisfaction after two years in the DC voucher program. It found no statistically significant improvement in reading or math test scores between students who were offered a voucher and students who were not offered a voucher. It also found that students did not report improvements in school satisfaction or safety.

Study Summary


The study evaluated outcomes in student achievement, safety, and satisfaction after one year in the DC voucher program. It found no statistically significant improvement in reading or math test scores between students who were offered a voucher and students who were not offered a voucher. It also found that students did not report improvements in school satisfaction or safety. 

Study Summary


GAO Reports


The study looked at the administrator of the DC voucher program, the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, and found it to be lacking the internal controls necessary to run and maintain sufficient oversight over the DC voucher program. Among the problems the study found with the Trust were that it failed to give prospective families enough information to make informed decisions, it did not provide effective oversight to voucher schools,  its database was outdated and full of inaccuracies, it lacked financial accountability, and it failed to ensure voucher schools complied with accreditation standards.

Study Summary


The study looked at the administrator of the DC voucher program, the Washington Scholarship Fund, and found it to be lacking in accountability and missing the systems, procedures, and internal controls necessary to implement the program effectively. Among its problems, WSF provided parents incomplete and inaccurate information about voucher schools. The study also found that schools in the voucher program were not high quality education programs that lacked even basic requirements of operation such as certificates of occupancy.

Study Summary


INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS

"A new U.S. General Accountability Office report says that  the local agency that administers the program — which has used $152 million in federal funds since 2004 for more than 5,000 students from low-income families — lacks the “financial systems, controls, policies, and procedures” to ensure that federal funds are being spent legally." 


"A Washington Post review found that hundreds of students use their voucher dollars to attend schools that are unaccredited or are in unconventional settings, such as a family-run K-12 school operating out of a storefront, a Nation of Islam school based in a converted Deanwood residence, and a school built around the philosophy of a Bulgarian psychotherapist."


Academic Achievement


"The lack of evidence that vouchers significantly improve student achievement (test scores), coupled with the evidence of a modest, at best, impact on educational attainment (graduation rates), suggests that an ideological preference for education markets over equity and public accountability is what is driving the push to expand voucher programs. Ideology is not a compelling enough reason to switch to vouchers, given the risks. These risks include increased school segregation; the loss of a common, secular educational experience; and the possibility that the flow of inexperienced young teachers filling the lower-paying jobs in private schools will dry up once the security and benefits offered to more experienced teachers in public schools disappear."


The study found that the voucher program had a negative effect on student achievement in both reading and math after its first two years. It also found that the program had a negative impact on integration in private schools.

Study Summary


Recent studies using rigorous research designs have found that students receiving vouchers in both Louisiana and Indiana performed worse in reading and math than similar students in public schools. In both programs, "[t]he magnitudes of the negative impacts were large."


“[T]he estimated effects of EdChoice participation on test scores are unambiguously negative across a variety of model specifications, for both reading and mathematics (though more negative for mathematics than for reading). The negative results are present regardless of whether we look at the same students in a panel setting or different sets of students, and they do not appear to change much over time, indicating that the initial negative results are not due to the fact that EdChoice participants all were newcomers in a new private school.”

Study Summary


This study looked looked at students in Florida's tuition tax credit program and found that there were no gains in reading or math test scores, compared to students nationally. In fact, for the 2014-15 school year, the difference was -1.1 national percentile ranking points in reading and -0.9 national percentile ranking points in mathematics. This is consistent with findings from studies of the program in previous years.


The study compared students in the Milwaukee voucher program and students in Milwaukee public schools for grades 3-9 and found no significant achievement growth for reading or math between voucher and public school students for the first three years.


The study evaluated outcomes in student achievement, safety, and satisfaction after four years in the DC voucher program. It found no statistically significant improvement in reading or math test scores between students who were offered a voucher and students who were not offered a voucher. It also found that students did not report improvements in school satisfaction or safety. 

Summary of All Four Department of Education Studies


The study evaluated outcomes in student achievement, safety, and satisfaction after three years in the DC voucher program. It found no statistically significant improvement in math test scores between students who were offered a voucher and students who were not offered a voucher. The study found reading achievement for some students (students from schools not in need of improvement and students who were already testing in the top two-thirds of the test-score distribution when they entered the program) but not for students from schools in need of improvement, which the program specifically targeted. Notably, the final study and prior two studies found no statistically significant improvement in reading for students who were offered a voucher versus those who were not.  It also found that students did not report improvements in school satisfaction or safety.

Study Summary


The study evaluated outcomes in student achievement, safety, and satisfaction after two years in the DC voucher program. It found no statistically significant improvement in reading or math test scores between students who were offered a voucher and students who were not offered a voucher. It also found that students did not report improvements in school satisfaction or safety.

Study Summary


The study evaluated outcomes in student achievement, safety, and satisfaction after one year in the DC voucher program. It found no statistically significant improvement in reading or math test scores between students who were offered a voucher and students who were not offered a voucher. It also found that students did not report improvements in school satisfaction or safety. 

Study Summary


The study found that voucher students were less likely to be African-American or Latino/a than their public school peers, that students who exited the program were more likely to be African American or Latino/a than were students who remained in the program, that the majority of voucher students were already attending a private school prior to receiving the voucher, and that "after controlling for differences in minority status, student mobility and prior achievement, there are no statistically significant differences in overall achievement scores between students who have used a scholarship [voucher] throughout their academic career (i.e., kindergarten through sixth grade) and students in the two public school comparison groups."



Students With Disabilities


"In sum, our five years of research on the MPCP [Milwaukee voucher program] suggests that students with disabilities are classified and served differently in the private and public education sectors in Milwaukee, and that the MPCP serves students with disabilities at about two-fifths to three-quarters the rate of MPS [Milwaukee public schools]."


The study looked at Ohio's voucher program, which exclusively serves students with autism, and found that the program excluded students with more severe disabilities, students unable to pay costs above the amount covered by the voucher, and students based on religion, "leaving more disadvantaged students in the public system." The study reasoned that "it seems inevitable that the program will damage Ohio's public system."



CIVIL RIGHTS


The study found that private school vouchers threaten to increase school segregation. By looking at racial and ethnic demographics in voucher programs (where that information is available), the study found that "there is a risk for private school vouchers to increase school segregation, in particular by facilitating the movement of white students to disproportionately white private schools."


The study found that the voucher program had a negative affect on student achievement in both reading and math after its first two years. It also found that the program had a negative impact on integration in private schools.

Study Summary


The study found that Georgia's tuition tax credit program was funneling taxpayer dollars into private schools that were "condemn[ing] homosexuality on religious grounds; [p]unish[ing] gay students by excluding them from admission and scholarships or expelling and disciplining them because they are gay; [u]s[ing] textbooks and curricula that are harshly anti-gay -- some even comparing gays to rapists and murderers; and [e]xpel[ling] or disciplin[ing] students in some cases for simply tolerating homosexuality."



Waste, Fraud, & Abuse


The study looked at Pennsylvania's two tuition tax credit programs, the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program and the Educational Improvement Tax Credit. It found severe accountability problems with both programs, most notably: they did not serve students in rural areas where there were virtually no private schools or scholarship organizations (SOs) present; they fund primarily religious schools, which are not required to be accredited or held to the same standards for curricula as public schools; they do not require the same testing requirements as public schools, making it impossible to gauge student achievement; and they do not require reporting by schools or SOs. "Despite over a billion dollars in public subsidies for private schools since the programs’ inceptions, there is no central reckoning of administrative or programmatic expenditures by either SOs or the private schools that voucher students attend."

Study Summary


The study found that with state tuition tax credit programs donors are able to take advantage of both state tax credits and federal tax deductions, creating profits for many wealthy taxpayers. "For some high-income taxpayers, this dual benefit can turn a scholarship 'donation' into a profit-generating scheme where the total tax cut received significantly exceeds the size of the original donation."


The study looked at 25 voucher programs (20 traditional voucher and 5 education savings account programs) across the country and found that these voucher programs significantly complicated the receipt of federal funding for programs in public schools in those states. It found that voucher programs harmed students with disabilities by denying them their rights under IDEA, by failing to provide equitable services, and by providing IDEA services inconsistently across school districts. The study also found that voucher programs harmed students from low-income families because many private voucher schools failed to provide equitable Title I services to eligible students.

Study Summary


The study looked at the administrator of the DC voucher program, the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, and found it to be lacking the internal controls necessary to run and maintain sufficient oversight over the DC voucher program. Among the problems the study found with the Trust were that it failed to give prospective families enough information to make informed decisions, it did not provide effective oversight to voucher schools,  its database was outdated and full of inaccuracies, it lacked financial accountability, and it failed to ensure voucher schools complied with accreditation standards.

Study Summary


The study looked at the administrator of the DC voucher program, the Washington Scholarship Fund, and found it to be lacking in accountability and missing the systems, procedures, and internal controls necessary to implement the program effectively. Among its problems, WSF provided parents with incomplete and inaccurate information about voucher schools. The study also found that schools in the voucher program were not high quality education programs that lacked even basic requirements of operation such as certificates of occupancy.

Study Summary



Religious Schools


The study "show[s] that vouchers are now a dominant source of funding for many churches; parishes in our sample running voucher-accepting schools get more revenue from vouchers than from worshipers. We also find that voucher expansion prevents church closures and mergers."