Washington, D.C.’s voucher program raised graduation rates significantly, writes Matthew Ladner on Jay P. Greene’s Blog. The final evaluation report found an 82 percent graduation rate for students who won the voucher lottery, compared to 70 percent for lottery losers. Students who used their vouchers to attend private schools — some lottery winners don’t — had graduation rates 21 percent higher. Benefits were similar for students from Schools in Need of Improvement.
Although last year’s report found higher reading achievement for lottery winners, this year students’ progress fell short of statistical significance. That’s because the sample size was smaller because students had “graded out,” Ladner writes. His analysis shows it’s very likely the voucher students outperformed the control group in reading.
In sum, the five-year evaluation of the DC voucher program has shown that low-income students who received scholarships have higher graduation rates, higher student achievement, increased parental views of safety, and increased parent satisfaction. There was not one single negative finding over the entire course of the evaluation. I’d say that’s quite a success for a program that spent a fraction of the per-pupil amount spent in DC public schools.
Congress voted to kill the program for low-income students last year.
Update: The choice benefit is larger, writes Greg Forster. The graduation rate is only 49 percent in district-run schools. How did the control group hit 70 percent? Some 35 percent of lottery losers went to charter schools and 12 percent enrolled in private schools without a voucher.
Reauthorize vouchers, editorializes in the Washington Post.