Do students who attend private schools fare better in math than those kids who sit in a public school classroom? According to a recent government study, public schools do a better job in promoting student achievement in math. (ID: registernow5; password: registernow)
"Though private school students have long scored higher on the [NAEP], the new study used advanced statistical techniques to adjust for the effects of income, school and home circumstances...The study found that while the raw scores of fourth graders in Roman Catholic schools, for example, were 14.3 points higher than those in public schools, when adjustments were made for student backgrounds, those in Catholic schools scored 3.4 points lower than those in public schools...The study also found that charter schools, privately operated and publicly financed, did significantly worse than public schools in the fourth grade, once student populations were taken into account...The current study found that self-described conservative Christian schools, the fastest-growing sector of private schools, fared poorest, with their students falling as much as one year behind their counterparts in public schools, once socioeconomic factors like income, ethnicity and access to books and computers at home were considered."
There is more to be found in the whole article, of course. Overall, students in private schools do appear to outperform their peers in the public arena. This study shows just how much of an impact the above factors (income, ethnicity, home access to books/computers) have on children. If you can afford to send your child to a private school, you are also likely to have the ability to send your child to school "ready to learn."
A public school district in this area consistently has test scores that are among the top few in the state. The group I worked with on Wednesday and Thursday were talking about this phenomenon---as the group leader was the wife of the superintendent for the high-achieving district and one of the teachers had worked there at one time. Everyone agreed that kids are kids. The difference is that the high-achieving district has enough affluent families who can afford to ensure that their kids come to school well-fed, in good physical condition, and with few wants. Kids there can concentrate on their education.
What will the results of the "private vs. public" study mean? It's hard to say yet. This is only the first. It only looks at math scores. With the increasing numbers of charter schools, it may take time before we can really get an idea of whether or not public schools are better for those students who are not white and/or from more humble backgrounds. Should be interesting to see what we learn.