Results of a School Voucher Experiment: The Case of Washington, D.C. After Two Years

Patrick J. Wolf, Paul E. Peterson and Martin R. West
Year of publication: 
PEPG 01-05

In the fall of 1997, the Washington Scholarship Fund (WSF) announced the expansion of a privately funded school voucher program in Washington, D.C. originally established in 1993. In the spring of 1998, over six thousand students from public and private schools applied to the new program; of these initial applicants, over one thousand were offered scholarships—809 of whom were attending public schools at the time.

WSF awarded scholarships by lottery, thereby making it possible to conduct an evaluation designed as a randomized field trial. This evaluation examines the impact of the first two years of the WSF program on those students who completed the baseline testing, were attending public school, and were in grades 1-7 in the spring of 1998. The evaluation estimates the program’s impact on student test scores in reading, math and combined achievement, as well as other educational and social outcomes, as reported by parents and students.