Washington, D.C. Voucher Program
Congress created the Washington, D.C. voucher "pilot" program in 2004, making it the first federally funded school voucher program in history. About 1,900 students participate in the program, with vouchers worth up to $7,500 per student, at a cost to federal taxpayers of about $14 million a year. In June 2007, the U.S. Department of Education released the findings of a Congressionally mandated academic evaluation of the program, which revealed no significant differences in reading or math achievement between voucher students and Washington, D.C. public school students, even though the participating private schools are permitted to maintain their admissions standards. Also in 2007, a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report uncovered countless problems associated with the program's lack of public accountabilty, including federal tax money going to private schools that do not even charge tuition. The five-year pilot program is set to expire in 2008, unless Congress chooses to reauthorize it or continue funding it.