How Parents Rate Schools: DC Opportunity Scholarship Program

Applying to the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: How Do Parents Rate Their Children’s Current Schools at Time of Application and What Do They Want in New Schools?

A majority of parents who applied to the federally funded voucher program in Washington, D.C., were satisfied with the school in which their child was currently enrolled at the time they were applying, according to a report released by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

The new evaluation brief from the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) provides insights about the reasons parents may have had for applying to the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) and what they were looking for in new schools. The OSP, established in 2004, is the only federally-funded private school voucher program for low-income parents in the United States.

Among the findings:

• The majority of parents seeking a private school voucher for their child were satisfied with their child’s current school at the time of application. Fifty- seven percent of applicants’ parents gave their child’s current school at time of application a grade of ‘A’ or ‘B’, while 14 percent gave their child’s school a ‘D’ or ‘F.’

• Most parents chose academic quality as their top priority for a new school. The application form asked parents to identify their top three priorities when selecting a private school for their child. Nearly half of applicants’ parents (49 percent) chose academic quality, followed by school safety (18 percent).

• Most parents were satisfied with their child’s current school at the time of application on elements they viewed as top priorities for a new school. Sixty-six percent of applicants’ parents were satisfied with their child’s current school at time of application on the element they indicated was their top priority for choosing a new school. For example, 49 percent of applicants’ parents that said academic quality was their top priority for a new school, yet over 85 percent of those parents were satisfied with academic quality at their child’s current school. This finding suggests that families do not always apply for private school vouchers because they are dissatisfied with key elements of the schools their children are already attending.

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