Education Report Roundup

Analysis of PISA Finds Private School Effect

October 20, 2008 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A new study that examines test scores from 29 countries concludes that competition from private schools improves achievement for students in both public and private schools.

Martin R. West, an assistant education professor at Brown University, and Ludger Woessmann, an economics professor at the University of Munich in Germany, find that a 10 percent increase in the share of national student enrollment at private schools leads to an average improvement that is nearly equal to half of a year’s worth of learning in mathematics, and a gain that is equivalent to more than one-fifth of a grade level in science and reading.

The researchers used standardized test data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA. An overview of the research appears in the winter edition of Education Next, published by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

The researchers say differences in the extent of private schooling in the nations studied stems largely from the Catholic Church’s 19th-century construction of its own schools in certain countries.

The study sought to “capture only that share of the private sector’s size that can be attributed to 19th-century Catholic policies,” and use that estimate “to isolate the causal effect of private school competition on the achievement of individual students across 29 countries.”

The researchers say they also sought to adjust for many other factors, such as family background and other national characteristics beyond the role of Catholic schooling.

A version of this article appeared in the October 22, 2008 edition of Education Week


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
How to Leverage Virtual Learning: Preparing Students for the Future
Hear from an expert panel how best to leverage virtual learning in your district to achieve your goals.
Content provided by Class
English-Language Learners Webinar AI and English Learners: What Teachers Need to Know
Explore the role of AI in multilingual education and its potential limitations.
Education Webinar The K-12 Leader: Data and Insights Every Marketer Needs to Know
Which topics are capturing the attention of district and school leaders? Discover how to align your content with the topics your target audience cares about most. 

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education From Our Research Center What's on the Minds of Educators, in Charts
Politics, gender equity, and technology—how teachers and administrators say these issues are affecting the field.
1 min read
Stylized illustration of a pie chart
Traci Daberko for Education Week
Education Briefly Stated: August 30, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: August 23, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: August 16, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read