School Choice & Charters Report Roundup

Public vs. Private Study Compares Outcomes for Urban Students

October 16, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Disadvantaged students from urban areas show about the same results in academic achievement and other education-related outcomes regardless of whether they attended a public or private school, a study released last week concludes.

Using longitudinal data, the study focused on a sample of 1,003 students with similar backgrounds in academic achievement before entering high school, in family socioeconomic status, and on various indicators of parental involvement in school.

The report says it contradicts previous findings from some other researchers, who found a positive private school effect for disadvantaged students, as well as assumptions often made by policymakers.

“Once the full scope of the family is taken into account, cultural capital as well as economic capital, private school effects disappear,” says the report, published by the Center on Education Policy, a Washington-based research and advocacy organization that has been sharply critical of publicly funded programs to provide private school tuition vouchers.

Critics questioned elements of the study. For one, they noted that it considered only students who took a 12th grade exam.

“Dropout rates can be extraordinarily high” in many urban public schools, said Joe McTighe, the executive director of the Council for American Private Education, a group based in Germantown, Md., that supports and promotes private schools. “The research has already skewed the results.”

The study, conducted by researcher Harold H. Wenglinksy of Columbia University, relied on data from a nationally representative database of students and schools—the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988-2000.

The report notes two exceptions to its main findings. First, students who attended independent private high schools had higher SAT scores than the public school students. Second, students who attended some Roman Catholic schools run by religious orders, such as the Jesuits, instead of diocesan schools, saw some higher achievement than the public school students.

A version of this article appeared in the October 17, 2007 edition of Education Week


Student Well-Being Webinar After-School Learning Top Priority: Academics or Fun?
Join our expert panel to discuss how after-school programs and schools can work together to help students recover from pandemic-related learning loss.
Budget & Finance Webinar Leverage New Funding Sources with Data-Informed Practices
Address the whole child using data-informed practices, gain valuable insights, and learn strategies that can benefit your district.
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
ChatGPT & Education: 8 Ways AI Improves Student Outcomes
Revolutionize student success! Don't miss our expert-led webinar demonstrating practical ways AI tools will elevate learning experiences.
Content provided by Inzata

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

School Choice & Charters Opinion White Parents Say They Want Diverse Schools, But Will They Send Their Kids?
Racial stereotypes and reluctance to be in a racial minority are part of the calculus of how white parents choose schools.
Kathleen Hayes & Cassandra Kaczocha
5 min read
Conceptual image of two circles of influence, with one much bigger than the other.
ajijchan/iStock/Getty and Laura Baker/EdWeek
School Choice & Charters Do Vouchers and ESAs Take Money From Public Schools? How States Fund School Choice
Republican state lawmakers have ramped up programs that dedicate public funds for parents to spend on their children’s private education.
7 min read
Illustration of a large hand inserting a coin into the top of a stack of books
School Choice & Charters Opinion What Is an Education Savings Account, and Why Does It Matter?
ESAs shift us from a system of “school” choice to “educational” choice, opening the door to a system that offers more customizable options.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters GOP Lawmakers Tout Choice as a Way Out of Failing Schools
Republicans in the U.S. House are using their majority to push for policies that would send public funds to private schools.
4 min read
Artistic image of multiple paths leading to a school building.
Laura Baker/Education Week via Canva