@EEPAjournal published long-term RCT findings for Washington DC's school voucher program - providing private school scholarships to low-income students. Quick take: High-quality RCT finds no effect on college enrollment rate within 2 years of scheduled high school graduation.

Program:

  • The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, created by Congress in 2004, provides scholarships to low-income DC families to attend private schools.

Study Design:

  • The study sample comprised 1,780 students entering grades 2-12 who applied for a voucher in 2004 or 2005. A randomized lottery was used to determine who was offered a voucher (treatment) and who wasn't (control). 71% of lottery winners used their voucher for at least 1 year.

Findings:

  • No discernible impact on rate of college enrollment within 2 years of scheduled high school graduation. (The rate was 43.0% for lottery winners vs 45.5% for lottery losers - a difference that wasn't statistically significant.)

Comment:

  • Based on careful review, this was a high-quality RCT. The sample wasn't large enough to fully rule out a sizable adverse effect or small positive effect (the 95% confidence interval was -7.6% points to +2.6% points). But the results suggest the effect is near zero.

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