Studies and Reports





DC Voucher

Department oF Education Studies


The study evaluated outcomes in student achievement, safety, and satisfaction after one year in the DC voucher program. It found that participation in the voucher program led to a statistically significant negative impact on math achievement for students overall. K-5 Students, who made up a majority of the students in the program, suffered statistically significant negative impacts in both reading and math. There was no statistically significant impact on student or parent satisfaction or students' perception of safety.

Study Summary


This study looked at the demographics of the DC voucher program. It found that the majority of the schools participating in the program are religiously affiliated. It also found that the program 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 for students participating in the program. It also found that students did not report an increase in perceptions of 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 for students who participated in the program. The study found increased reading achievement for a subset of 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 US Department of Education final study and prior two studies of the DC voucher 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 an increase in perceptions of 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 for students who participated in the program. It also found that students did not report an increase in perceptions of 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 for students who participated in the program. It also found that students did not report an increase in perceptions of school satisfaction or safety. 

Study Summary


GAO Reports


The study looked at the administration of the DC voucher program and found significant weaknesses in administration and oversight. Among the problems the study identified: 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 administration of the DC voucher program and found it lacked accountability and was missing the systems, procedures, and internal controls necessary to implement the program effectively. Among its many problems: WSF provided parents incomplete and inaccurate information about voucher schools. The study also found that schools in the voucher program were of poor quality and some lacked even basic requirements such as certificates of occupancy.

Study Summary


INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS

"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 study evaluated outcomes in student achievement, safety, and satisfaction after one year in the DC voucher program. It found that participation in the voucher program led to a statistically significant negative impact on math achievement for students overall. K-5 Students, who made up a majority of the students in the program, suffered statistically significant negative impacts in both reading and math. There was no statistically significant impact on student or parent satisfaction or students' perception of safety.

Study Summary


This study concluded that voucher programs introduce risks, including: "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."


This study looked at Ohio's EdChoice program and found that participation in the program had an "unambiguously negative"  impact on "both reading and math (though more negative for mathematics than for reading)."

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 for students participating in the program. It also found that students did not report an increase in perceptions of 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 for students who participated in the program. The study found increased reading achievement for a subset of 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 US Department of Education final study and prior two studies of the DC voucher 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 an increase in perceptions of 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 for students who participated in the program. It also found that students did not report an increase in perceptions of 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 for students who participated in the program. It also found that students did not report an increase in perceptions of school satisfaction or safety. 

Study Summary


The study found 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." The study also 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



Students With Disabilities


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

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 concluded: "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." In particular, the study found severe accountability problems with both programs, most notably: they do 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 adhere 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.

Study Summary


The study found that donors to state tuition tax credit programs can 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 administration of the DC voucher program and found significant weaknesses in administration and oversight. Among the problems the study identified: 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 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 for students who participated in the program. It also found that students did not report an increase in perceptions of school satisfaction or safety. 

Study Summary



Religious Schools


The study "show[s] that vouchers are now a dominant source of funding for many churches." In addition "voucher expansion causes significant declines in church donations and church spending on non-educational religious purposes. The meteoric growth of vouchers appears to offer financial stability for congregations while at the same time diminishing their religious activities."