Even with recent study, ‘Evidence in Favor of [The DC OSP] Continues to Mount’

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Services (IES) released the results of its study on the country’s only federally funded voucher program, which gives families in Washington, D.C. the financial support needed to enroll their child in a private school of their choice. In a nutshell, the study, titled “Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Impacts After One Year,” looked at how students progressed (or not) after their first year of being part of the program. Among other things, the study found that student achievement was negatively impacted after year 1.
After a comprehensive overview, we found that the study and its results had its faults. Yesterday, we released a formal statement in response.
Today, in an effort to provide a more balanced perspective, we are offering a different look at the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP).
The Numbers:
Since the OSP has been available, over 19,800 children have applied to enroll in the program, over 7,500 have been awarded a scholarship, and during the 2016-2017 school year alone, 1,154 students enrolled in a participating school.
Why are these numbers important?
They are a direct reflection of the most important part of the OSP: families. Every school year, families across the district are seeking a better way, outside of their neighborhood school, to educate their children. The numbers show that students and families are finding success at the 49 participating private schools across the district. The program is such a success, and we were glad to see that the Trump Administration and Congress included a reauthorization of the program in this final FY 2017 budget.

The Stories:
While numbers tell an important part of the story, they don’t tell the entire story. Personal stories are the other part. There is nothing like seeing the faces and hearing the stories of those who have been impacted. Since the inception of the OSP in the 2004-2005 school year, there are close to 10,000 stories to tell of children who were floundering in their neighborhood school, but with a scholarship found success. Ashli is one of those students.
Katherine, Ashli’s mom, didn’t even let her daughter play outside in their own neighborhood. So there was no way she would send her to the neighborhood school. Thankfully, with the OSP, Katherine could afford to send Ashli to Lowell, a private school in the district, where she was able to get good grades and have unique classroom experiences.
Ashli’s story is just one of thousands. Here’s a snapshot of how the program is changing the lives of families in the nation’s capital for the better.

The (Other) Research:
Evidence in Favor of School Choice Continues to Mount” This was the title of a recent article spotlighting the OSP and the consistent success the program experiences each year. Although this article specifically focused on one of the program’s most recent studies, its title alone called attention to the conglomeration of studies that looked at the program’s impact.
From the most recent study that showed the OSP had “a statistically significant positive effect on reading outcomes for students two to four years into the program” to the 2010 IES study that showed OSP students graduated at a rate more than 30% higher than D.C. Public Schools, and a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research showing that OSP boosted reading scores by 3.7 months of learning over 3 years, the article was right.
Evidence that the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program is providing families with a quality education is insurmountable.

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