DC Vouchers off to a Good Start

The U.S. Department of Education has completed the first-year evaluation of participation in the Washington D.C. school voucher program. Last year, more than 1300 public school students received scholarships to attend a private school of their choice from the DC Opportunity Scholarship program. There were 2,700 applicants to the program, 85 percent of which were from public schools. The DC Opportunity Scholarship is America’s first federally funded scholarship program. The Washington Scholarship Fund anticipates up to 1,000 new scholarship recipients in the 2005-2006 school year. Some of the findings from the 108 page report, which has a wealth of interesting data points, include: ?Fifty-eight schools, or more than half of the private schools in DC, are participating. ?Twenty-eight percent of the schools are non-faith based, compared to 4 percent in Cleveland’s school choice program. ?433 scholarship recipients would otherwise have attended schools “in need of improvement” under No Child Left Behind. ?Applicants to the program are substantially more economically disadvantaged than DC public school students overall. ?When asked why they chose a new school, “academic quality” was the most commonly cited. The applicants were also more likely to be African American than the general population of the Washington D.C. public schools. Thanks to Education Excellence Utah for the tip.