Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education released the first-year evaluation of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program serving 1,366 low-income students in the nation's capital, www.ed.gov/programs/dcchoice. The report found the average family income of scholarship applicants was $18,742. A majority of participating parents cited academic quality as the primary reason for participating in the school choice program. Additionally, parents listed fighting, tardiness, destruction of property, truancy, cheating, and guns or other weapons as problems at their child's previous school.
The report also dispels some common misconceptions surrounding private school tuition and student population. Most participating private schools ask families to pay $5,500 or less in tuition, and 60 percent of participating private schools have student bodies comprised entirely of students from racial or ethnic minority groups. On average, 82 percent of children attending participating private schools are minority students. Three out of four participating private schools said they accept or are willing to accept special needs students.
The report is the first in a series of annual reports that the U.S. Department of Education will conduct to monitor the impact of the program on participating students.