Latest D.C. Voucher Study: Program Harms Students’ Academic Achievement

The Department of Education just released a new study of the Washington, D.C., school voucher program. And the findings confirm what we’ve known for years: The program doesn’t improve students’ academic achievement. In fact, it has resulted in statistically significant negative impacts on student test scores.

The study found that students using a D.C. voucher performed 7.3 percentage points worse in math than their peers. The program especially hurts students in elementary schools, which comprise 68 percent of the voucher students in the study and are the largest demographic in the program. These students performed worse in math and reading: 14.7 percentage points lower in math and 9.3 percentage points lower in reading.

This conclusion isn’t a surprise considering similar results were reached in recent studies of voucher programs across the country. The studies have found negative impacts on student achievement for voucher students in Ohio, Louisiana and Indiana.

The latest study of the D.C. voucher program confirmed what we've known for years: It doesn’t improve students’ academic achievement.

The D.C. study notes that one of the reasons for lower performances in voucher schools may be that they spend less time per week on classroom instruction in both reading and math than schools attended by students not in the voucher program. Another reason could be that the voucher schools which have cropped up throughout the District are schools of poor quality that are not held to the same accreditation, curriculum or teacher standards as public schools.

Other findings of the study show that the D.C. voucher program did not have a statistically significant impact on parents’ or students’ satisfaction with the school or on parental involvement in students’ education.

The implications of this study are clear: The D.C. voucher program is a failure. Nonetheless, Congress is still working to renew this failed program – which, since it’s federally funded, taxpayers nationwide are paying for. Tell your Member of Congress to oppose reauthorization of the D.C. voucher program.

To learn more about the D.C. voucher program, visit the National Coalition for Public Education, which Americans United co-chairs, here.