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3 Things You Need to Know About the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program

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Today, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will consider the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Reauthorization Act.

In 2002, the SOAR Act created a three-sector strategy that ensured a boost in support for traditional and charter public schools. The Act also created the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, which has been a lifeline for low-income students to attend accredited private schools.

It’s been six years since the program was reauthorized. As a result, annual renewals have been difficult, since opponents have been unwilling to extend the program for the typical five-year authorization.

For members of Congress, their staffs, and other interested parties who don’t know a lot about SOAR or the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), here are three essential facts to get you up to speed:

1. The three-sector strategy improves education for students across the city.

The SOAR Act is a unique, relatively small but impactful program that forms the foundation for an improving education environment. In this, this environment has resulted in improved economic conditions and a vibrant, safer city in which to live.

2. The Opportunity Scholarships help students succeed.

The OSP has enabled student success, increased student retention, and high parent satisfaction. Ninety-eight percent of all OSP students graduated from an OSP participating school, and 94% of them moved onto some type of post-secondary education. In 2016, 87% of all OSP parents reported satisfaction with their child’s school and academic success.

3. Educational choice across public, private and public charter schools is popular.

In 2016, 2349 students applied for 234 opportunity scholarships. Meanwhile, a staggering 20,880 students are on waiting lists for public charter schools in DC.