Research on the academic and civic outcomes produced by non-public schools is complicated. On the one hand, studies of the “school effect” dating back to James Coleman’s 1982 analysis of public, independent, and Catholic high schools indicates that private schools often produce modestly better academic and civic outcomes than district schools, even after controlling for students’ demographics. Furthermore, international research suggests that highly pluralistic school systems, in which the government funds and regulates but does not operate all schools, can create the conditions for both academic excellence and equity (OECD 2014). On the other hand, research on America’s scholarship programs shows uneven results, with one recent study (of Ohio’s voucher program) yielding “unambiguously negative” academic results, and at least one tax credit program’s benefiting predominantly middle-class rather than low-income families. What are we to make of these conflicting accounts? How do private-school access programs, such as tax credits and vouchers, affect student achievement and district budgets? Is there a way to ensure that they work towards excellence and equity rather than reinforce the socioeconomic status quo? How do other countries manage educational diversity? The bottom line: while the presence of diverse, state-supported private schools can be beneficial to students, there is nothing inevitable about their success.
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Latest posts by Ashley Berner (see all)
- Ashley Berner: Psychological Harm and School Choice for the Fordham Institute - August 16, 2017
- Ashley Berner in Brookings: To Improve Education in America, Look Beyond the Traditional School Model: - May 9, 2017
- Ashley Berner: How School Culture Drives Civic Knowledge and Shapes the Next Generation of Citizens for The 74 - April 25, 2017