News Brief  #3089 Category: Education Study Report
TITLE: "Public schools: Do they  outperform private ones?"

A new study by two University of Illinois  researchers casts doubt on the
widely held assumption that private schools are  better than public schools.

Researchers analyzed data from the 2000  National Assessment of Educational
Progress for 28,000 4th- and 8th-graders  representing more than 1300 public
and private schools. After accounting for  students' socioeconomic backgrounds,
they found that public school math scores  were 6 to 7 points higher for
4th-graders, and 1 to 9 points for  8th-graders.

Overall, private school students generally score higher on  standardized
tests. But the researchers suggest that has more to do with their  relatively
higher socioeconomic backgrounds than the quality of private school  education.

The findings "really call into question the assumption of  some of the more
prominent reform efforts" based on privatization, said  Christopher Lubienski,
the education professor who conducted the study with his  wife, Sarah Theule
Lubienski, also an education professor. "It really undercuts  a lot of those
choice-based reforms."

Henry Levin, a professor of  education at Columbia University's Teachers
College and director of the National  Center for the Study of Privatization in
Education, agrees "there's nothing  magic about privatization."

Titled "A New Look at Public and Private  Schools: Student Background and
Mathematics Achievement," the study appears in  the May issue of Phi Delta

SOURCE: Christian Science Monitor, 10  May 2005

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