“The D.C. voucher program has proven to be the most effective education policy evaluated by the federal government’s official education research arm so far,” writes Patrick Wolf in Education Next. Wolf was hired to study the program by comparing lottery winners to losers. He found a significant impact on reading for lottery winners who used the scholarship to attend a private school.
. . . students in the control group would need to remain in school an extra 3.7 months on average to catch up to the level of reading achievement attained by those who used the scholarship opportunity to attend a private school for any period of time. The catch-up time would have been around 5 months for those in the control group as compared to those who were attending a private school in the third year of the evaluation.
Wolf thinks voucher students will do even better as they adjust to more rigorous private schools.
In the control group of lottery losers, nearly half left district-run schools to enroll in charter schools or private schools.
Of course, Congress plans to end the federally funded program. Parents rallied today to ask that Education Secretary Arne Duncan rescind his order rescinding vouchers for 216 new students who won the lottery in the spring.