• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • DC Vouchers Improve Graduation Rates

    A new study released this week by the Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences found that participation in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program “raised a student’s probability of completing high school by 12 percentage points, from 70 percent to 82 percent, based on parent reports.” The news is a victory for school choice and education reform advocates across the country. Patrick Wolf, lead researcher at the University of Arkansas School Choice Demonstration Project, said:

    These results are important because high school graduation is strongly associated with a large number of important life outcomes such as lifetime earnings, longevity, avoiding prison and out-of-wedlock births, and marital stability.

    In his inaugural address, President Obama described a test for government success:

    The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works….Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.

    The evidence is clear: school vouchers work for Washington, DC, students.

    Unfortunately, the DC OSP is presently being phased out by Congress.  Powerful lobbying interests including the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Washington Teachers Union have all opposed the program – and school choice more generally. Their opposition – and the millions they give to Congress each year – has resulted in the program being phased-out.

    This is incredibly unfortunate. Matt Ladner notes over at Jay Greene’s blog:

    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.

    Read the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences complete analysis on the DC OSP here.

    Michael Wille is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to DC Vouchers Improve Graduation Rates

    1. Bob, Peoria says:

      In God we trust. All others bring facts and data. The voucher program works which is conttrary to the Liberal dogma that the government is the solution no matter what the outcome. Just another example of the rampant union take over of the Democratic Party. Only growing sector of the union movement is in the public sector….unsustainable.

    2. Bob Wille, Peoria, I says:

      In God WE TRUST. All others bring facts and data. The voucher program works wherever it is allowed to flourish. This is contrary to the liberal dogma that the government is the solution no matter what the outcome. The Democrats are increasingly being taken over by the Public Sector Unions which is the only growing sector of the union membership.

    3. Eric, New York says:


      Are you not at all concerned about sample bias? Kids who participate have parents who are more involved in their childrens' education, which one would expect would lead to better outcomes. I think it's premature to call the evidence "clear," all we can say is, quite simply, of the kids who participated in this program, they graduated at a higher rate.

    4. Michael, DC says:


      That is a concern, but the state can only do so much to get parents involved in the education of their children. All we can do is control for it in the model. Check out these two links:



      Also, every single school choice program in this country has had either neutral or positive result for the participants who applied for, won, and used a voucher. Check out this link:


    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.