The last thing I want to do is start yet another private versus public school debate but this evening I stumbled across an interesting article from 2007, "Study Examines Public, Private Schools," by an AP education writer. Nancy Zuckerbrod reports on a study that examines students who go to private and public schools.
In the study conducted by the nonpartisan Center on Education Policy researchers found the following:
"--In reading, family income, parental discussion, parental expectations, parental involvement and eighth-grade scores all positively affected 12th-grade reading scores. Scores weren't affected by the type of school a student attended unless it was a Catholic order school.
--In math, parental discussions and involvement had no effect on achievement scores. Parental expectations and family income did have an impact. Prior eighth-grade test scores were heavily correlated to achievement on the 12th-grade test. Again, attending a Catholic religious order school had a positive effect on the math scores.
--In science, income affected test scores but the other family characteristics did not. Prior test scores had the strongest impact. None of the school types had an edge over public high schools in boosting scores.
--In history, parental expectations and parental discussion had an impact on scores, as did achievement on eighth-grade tests. The only kind of school that had a positive impact on scores was a Catholic religious order school.
The students in the study were all poor and fit the demographics of those who would be eligible for the kind of private-school voucher programs or other school-choice initiatives generally favored by conservatives.
However, what the study shows is that family involvement matters more than whether a student goes to public or private school, said Jack Jennings, the president of the center."
The story does go on to quote someone who disputes the study:
"Andrew Coulson, an education expert at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, said this one study shouldn't sway public policy.
'The overwhelming body of research favors private schooling over public schooling,' he said.
Coulson said he hadn't read the study but said one concern is that it looks at 12th-grade students. He said kids who enter 12th grade in many urban public schools are a higher achieving subgroup than a school's larger student body, because of high drop-out rates in many inner-city schools.
The new study did find that students at independent private schools, not the religiously affiliated schools, got higher SAT scores than public-school students."
Anyway...it's all very interesting.