K-12 Research

Private Schools National Trends

The percentage of American elementary school students attending private elementary schools increased from 10% in 1948 to more than 15% in 1958. The percentage remained close to 15% through the mid-1960s but then fell back to 10% by the mid-1970s. The private elementary school enrollment rate remained between 9% and 11% for the rest of the 20th century. After 1999, the rate declined slowly but steadily, from 11% in 1999 to 9% in 2015.

Trends in private school enrollment rates over the period from 1968 to 2013 for all U.S. children enrolled in Grades 1 to 8 whose family incomes were at particular points in the national distribution. The figure illustrates the strong positive role of income in predicting private school enrollment rates. For example, in 1968, 18% of elementary school-aged children living in high-income families attended a private school, while the corresponding percentages for children from median- and low-income families are 12% and 5%, respectively. This pattern is no surprise because, in the absence of scholarships, families must pay tuitions to send a child to a private school but not a public school.

Given that less than 10% of American children attend a private elementary or secondary school, why should we care if gaps by family income in private school enrollment rates have grown? One reason is that if the private schools’ affluent families choose for their children provide a better education than the schools available to children from lower-income families, these choices pass on an economic advantage to the next generation and undercut the potential for intergenerational economic mobility. Even if the instruction in the private schools that affluent parents choose is not better than that which public schools provide, the opportunity to build relationships with children from other affluent, well-connected families may confer a long-term economic advantage.

Another reason to care about trends in private school enrollments by family income is that well-educated affluent parents that send their children to private schools may be less interested in devoting their time and their political and social capital to advocating for better public schools.

**Photo added by Dollar Per Christian

*(above information is not the full article) First published online January 22, 2018; Issue published: January 1, 2018. Richard J. Murane, Harvard University. Sean F. Reardon, Stanford University



Private Schools Boost College Degrees for Black Males

September 1, 2016 – High-achieving black males who attend private schools are dramatically more likely to attain a bachelor’s degree than similar students attending public schools, according to a study published in The Urban Review.

College Degrees for Black Males

The study is among the scholarly resources included in the “Black Male Education Research Collection,” a new website launched by University of Texas College of Educational Professors Louis Harrison and Anthony Brow to “help researchers, journalists, and policymakers locate available research on the education of black males.”

Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS:88/00), Dr. Valija C. Rose, the report’s author, looked at how high school types, settings, and programs affect the chances of certain students attaining a college degree.


Study Finds Advantages for Students in Faith-Based Schools

May 1, 2013 — Students in religious schools enjoy a significant academic advantage over their counterparts in traditional public schools and charter schools, according to findings from a meta-analysis of 90 studies on the effects of schools conducted by William Jeynes, senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, and a professor at California State University, Long Beach.

The study also found that faith-based schools have narrower achievement gaps and better student behavioral outcomes. Jeynes call religious schools “the best hope for American education” and says the nation should “rethink its strategy of espousing charter schools and overlooking the benefits of faith-based education.


FACT: Private schools do a better job of instilling civic values*

In reality, students at private schools are statistically more tolerant of the rights of others, more likely to vote, and more likely to volunteer than students at public schools. There are several possible reasons why private schools may be better at promoting democratic values. Research shows private schools are simply better at teaching students than public schools; the same qualities that make them better at teaching subjects like math also could make them better at teaching values like tolerance.*

These schools also may provide a cultural base for students to develop and embrace their personal identities. Studies have shown that individuals who are secure with their cultural identities are more likely to tolerate those who belong to other cultures.*

Volunteering and Civic Duty as ChristiansPrivate schools also benefit from being legally permitted to have a point of view on controversial subjects, which isn’t permitted in public schools. This allows private schools to handle controversial issues in a more straightforward manner and may help convey a tangible sense of what tolerance and civic duty require in practice. Although it may seem counterintuitive that private schools would provide stronger democratic values, the empirical evidence supports the conclusion that vouchers would benefit the teaching of civic values to America’s youth.

*What Impact Does School Choice Have on Civic Values?,” Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, last modified July 31, 2015, http://www.edchoice.org/school_choice_faqs/what-impact-does-school-choice-have-on-civic-values.

Gallup Poll: Americans Give High Marks to Private Schools

September 1, 2017 — Americans rate private schools significantly higher than other types of schools, according to a Gallup poll conducted early last month and released August 21.

The survey of 1,017 U.S. adults aged 18 and older found that 71 percent of participants regarded independent private schools as excellent or good, while 63 percent gave the same rating to parochial or church-related schools. Charter schools received excellent or good ratings from 55 percent of American adults; home schools from 46 percent, and public schools from 44 percent.

*Read more about the poll in the September issue of CAPE Outlook.