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New Study: Private School Students Ahead of Their Public School Peers by Two Years

...even after adjusting for background differences.
1 ¼ min

Last year a report from the Friedman Foundation found that only 9% of parents send their child to a private school. However, if given the means and opportunity to send their child to the school of their choice, 41% of parents would pick a private school.

Those numbers seem especially important with the release of a British study which examined achievement between state-funded school pupils and independent (private) school pupils. According to The Guardian:

“The study by Durham University – the most sophisticated of its type to date – found that independent school pupils in England gained an advantage worth nearly two-thirds of a GCSE [England's prominent high school exam] grade higher once the effects of income, gender and prior attainment were stripped out.

‘This difference equates to a gain of about two years’ normal progress and suggests that attending an independent school is associated with the equivalent of two additional years of schooling by the age of 16,’ the research says.

The Durham research, funded by the Independent Schools Council, suggests that the attainment gap is larger than previously thought and can be found among all age groups, starting from the first years of primary school where pupils are aged four.”

Like England, the U.S. also suffers from a number of achievement gap differences driven by social and economic background. If British private schools can boost educational achievement by two years even after controlling for background differences, could the U.S. do the same? Should we consider making private school a more feasible option for disadvantaged students by allowing their publicly-allotted education dollars to follow them to the school of their choice?

Image Credit: Susan Sermoneta

Annie Holmquist

Annie Holmquist

Annie Holmquist is the editor of Intellectual Takeout. When not writing or editing, she enjoys reading, gardening, and time with family and friends.

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Ms. Holmquist makes an argument for private schools that appears to lack evidence of success for such schooling. 40 percent approval by parents also means 60 percent disapproval. “Adjusting” for income, gender, prior attainment causes me pause. I’m not sure I understand how those things are removed, and still maintain a meaningful argument. Ms. Holmquist asked if we should let the dollars follow the student.... a resounding yes from me. But only if those funds are applied to a proven system that gives results.