Institute of Education Sciences
June 2007

When Congress approved a five-year pilot for the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), it required an independent evaluation with "the strongest possible research design for determining the effectiveness" of the program. This is the first installment of said evaluation. The Institute of Education Sciences performed a randomized controlled trial and found that, after one year,  there were "no statistically significant impacts, positive or negative, on student reading or math achievement for the entire impact sample." Glum-sounding, sure. But seasoned observers of school reforms were unsurprised at the results since it's rare to see gains after just one year. (Students had attended their new schools for only seven months before taking the evaluation's assessment, and it's well known that kids often temporarily slip backward after enrolling in a new school.) Moreover, "an additional 19 percent of the parents of students in the treatment group graded their child's schools 'A' or 'B' compared with the parents of control group students." (More on parents' views on OSP here.) The report also found that a couple of subgroups of higher-performing students performed better in math than their control group counterparts. Still, with the future of the program in jeopardy, here's hoping for stronger results in years two and three. Read the report here.

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