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ERIC Number: ED508628
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Oct
Pages: 85
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Parent and Student Voices on the First Year of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. SCDP Report 05-01
Stewart, Thomas; Wolf, Patrick J.; Cornman, Stephen Q.
School Choice Demonstration Project
On January 23, 2004, President Bush signed the DC School Choice Incentive Act into law. This landmark piece of legislation included $14 million in funding for what would come to be called the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). The OSP is the first federally funded K-12 scholarship program in the country and is designed to provide approximately 1,700 low-income DC children with tuition scholarships worth up to $7,500 to cover the costs of attending participating K-12 nonpublic schools in the District. The pilot program is authorized to operate for five years and is being implemented by a group of non-profit organizations headed by the Washington Scholarship Fund (WSF). In addition to extending educational choices to an economically disadvantaged group of DC families, the OSP also provides the opportunity to learn more about what happens when more families have the opportunity and responsibility to choose a private school for their children. The U.S. Department of Education, through the Institute for Education Sciences, has contracted for the conduct of a rigorous experimental evaluation of the impact of the Program on a number of student outcomes including student achievement. In this report, the authors provide information from a separate, independent, qualitative assessment of how families are experiencing the Program, including why they are seeking choice, how they are selecting schools, what challenges they are facing, and how parents, students, schools, and the OSP are working to try to realize the goals of the Program. Included in the report is information about what seems to be working well, what problems have been encountered along the way, and recommendations from parents and students regarding how the Program can better serve their needs. The information presented in this report was gleaned from 12 focus groups conducted in the fall of 2004 and the spring of 2005 with the parents and older students of 45 families participating in the OSP who volunteered to participate. Most of the material in the main body of the report consists of actual quotes from parents and students regarding matters that are central to the theoretical and policy debates surrounding school choice. A representative selection of participant quotes is available in the summary document that accompanies this more comprehensive report. For this executive summary, the authors simply provide their own overview of the pattern of responses that they encountered while analyzing the qualitative focus group data. Appendices include: (1) Research Approach; (2) Focus Group Guides; and (3) WSF Policies and Documents. (Contains 5 tables, 1 figure and 191 footnotes.)
School Choice Demonstration Project. Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas, 201 Graduate Education Building, Fayetteville, AR 72701. Tel: 479-575-3172; Fax: 479-575-3196; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Annie E. Casey Foundation
Authoring Institution: Georgetown University, School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP)
Identifiers - Location: District of Columbia