As part of a budget deal, Congress in May agreed to extend Washington, D.C.’s controversial school voucher plan until 2019.
The action came just days after the U.S. Department of Education released a study showing that students taking part in the voucher program, which is funded with federal tax dollars, actually perform worse academically than students who are not in the program.
Likely embarrassed by results like these, conservatives in Congress have mandated that future studies of the D.C. plan no longer use the “gold standard” in scientific research to examine the voucher program, which the department used when performing the recent D.C. voucher study. Instead, the department will have to employ a “quasi-experimental research design.”
Mark Dynarski, who co-authored the recent study of the D.C. plan, told The Washington Post, “This program has been studied rigorously since it began in 2004. … If rigor is rolled back, a future study might lead to more questions than answers.”