Government Study Confirms What We Already Knew: DC Vouchers Improve Graduation Rates

Kids placed in schools their parents chose for them – not the ones the government chose – graduate at a higher rate and are safer at school. Who would have guessed?


According to an evaluation released yesterday by the US Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences, the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) has “significantly improved students’ chances of graduating from high school.” The same study finds that “parents had higher satisfaction and rated schools as safer if their child was offered or used an OSP scholarship.”

With these dramatic success indicators, it must be no surprise that DC OSP is the only federal education program that the Obama Administration is intent on killing.

Dr. Matt Ladner, vice president of research at the Goldwater Institute reports:

“…students who were randomly selected to receive vouchers had an 82% graduation rate. That’s 12 percentage points higher than the students who didn’t receive vouchers. Students who actually used their vouchers had graduation rates that were 21% higher. Even better, the subgroup of students who received vouchers and came from designated Schools in Need of Improvement (SINI schools) had graduation rates that were 13 percentage points higher than the same subgroup of students who weren’t offered vouchers-and the effect was 20 percentage points higher for the SINI students who used their vouchers!”

That’s right. Students who used their voucher to attend a school of their parents’ choice had a 21 percent higher graduation rate than those who were eligible for a voucher but were not offered one in the lottery process. DC OSP is a federally-funded program that provides scholarships up to $7,500 to low-income families in Washington, DC – a pittance compared to DC Public School spending.

With these undeniable effects on graduation rates for low-income kids, why did Congress vote to kill DC OSP last year? Why can parents no longer choose a school that they find to be safer and offer a better environment for their children?

DC kids and parents have been begging President Obama – who himself attended private school on scholarship – to support them since he took office. But so far, the Obama Administration has cut the program by millions of dollars and disallowed new students to enter the program.

As common sense – and every study ever completed- tells us, high school graduation is a key indicator to success. Students who do not graduate are significantly more likely to become single parents at young ages, rely upon public assistance, and go to prison.

No other federally-funded program that has had such a remarkable effect on graduation rates, nor has another federally-funded program met such high demand from parents firsthand. Between 2004 and 2009, 5,500 students applied to participate in the program, and 3,700 received scholarships.

By opposing the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, the Obama Administration is actively barring students from pathways to programs that have proven successful in increasing their chance to graduate college. This position is unconscionable.

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