First-year returns on the congressionally enacted voucher program for the District of Columbia generally show no academic advantage for participating students when compared with a control group of similar students who attended Washington’s public schools, a federal study concludes.
At the same time, it found, parents were more satisfied with their child’s school if they were offered a scholarship.
The evaluation, issued June 21 by the Institute of Education Sciences, an arm of the U.S. Department of Education, compared the test scores of a sample of participating students who attended a private secular or parochial school and those of a group of students who applied for the vouchers, but did not receive them.
The analysis showed no statistically significant impact overall on the mathematics- and reading-test scores for the voucher students compared with the control group. The report said there may have been a positive impact on math achievement for two subgroups of students with baseline characteristics associated with better academic performance.
The federal program, enacted in 2005-06, provides vouchers of up to $7,500 to low- income families living in Washington.
A version of this article appeared in the July 18, 2007 edition of Education Week