This morning, the Senate committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, headed by Senator Joe Lieberman, heard testimony regarding the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. (The video and text of the speakers’ testimony can be found here).

I’d like to give a shout out to Dr. Patrick Wolf (who starts at 94:32) from here at the School Choice Demonstration Project in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, who testified about the IES-sponsored evaluation of the program.

Some of the facts from his testimony that anyone talking about the OSP needs to know:

1. The DC OSP “serves a highly disadvantaged group of students”.  How disadvantaged?  The average family income of scholarship recipients was less than $20,000.

2.  OSP students graduated from High School at signifigantly higher rates than the control group (those that applied but lost the scholarship lottery). Students that were offered a voucher graduated at a rate 12 percentage points higher than those that were not, and students that used that scholarship graduated at a rate 21 percentage points higher.  Those students that came from SINI schools (the lowest performing D.C. schools) graduated at a 13 percentage point higher rate if offered a scholarship and a 20 percentage point (from 66% to 86%) higher rate if they used that scholarship.

3. We can believe, with 94% confidence, that the OSP had a positive effect on student reading scores.  These reading gains roughly equate to 2.8 additional months of schooling for the entire treatment group (those offered scholarships) and 3.4 additional months of schooling for those that used their scholarship.

4.  All of these great things were accomplished with only $7500 per student in a city whose public schools spend, per-student,  $28,000+ dollars per year.


Let’s hope the truth will set the students of D.C. free.