The Program received new applications on behalf of 3,126 students during the second year of implementation (table 3-1). In total, then, 5,818 distinct individuals applied for Opportunity Scholarships during the first two application periods. Over 2,000 new applicants were deemed eligible for the Program in cohort 2, for a total of 4,047 eligible applicants to date. This total represents approximately 10 percent of eligible low-income students in the District of Columbia, according to 2000 census figures.
Congress signaled its intention to ensure that the OSP was targeted to students most in need of educational options. In particular, Section 306 of the statute identifies students attending public schools officially designated as in need of improvement under NCLB as a group that should receive priority for the Program. This priority was implemented in both how students were recruited to apply to the Program and how scholarships were awarded through lotteries (see also section 3.2). Because the lotteries must be conducted in the spring, before the District reports its SINI designations each August, the lottery priority group categories are always based on SINI designations that are a year behind. For the purposes of examining applicant characteristics, however, it is more accurate to consider the designation for the school year in which a student applies to the OSP: 2004 SINI designations for cohort 1 (spring 2004 applicants) and the 2005 designations for cohort 2 (spring 2005 applicants). In evaluating the extent to which the Program is drawing students with educational needs, we also use another indicator of school performance-the proportion of each applicant's school that met the "proficient" benchmark on the DCPS assessment in 2005.
12 Under NCLB, schools are designated as SINI if they have been conducting accountability testing consistent with the requirements of NCLB for at least 2 years and contained a student population or relevant subpopulation that failed to demonstrate Adequate Yearly Progress in both years.