Council for American Private Education

Voice of America's Private Schools

Cape Kids


Education Secretary DeVos Meets with CAPE Leaders


April 3, 2017 - Meeting for the first time with CAPE’s board of directors and representatives of its state affiliates, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos reaffirmed her commitment to expanding educational opportunities for children and parents.

“We have to stay focused on what’s right for kids,” said Mrs. DeVos, sounding a recurring theme in her young administration. “If we can keep asking ourselves the question about what is right for individual children, I think we’re going to come to a good and reasonable answer.” 

Read more about the DeVos/CAPE meeting in the April issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • House Education Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx Meets with CAPE
  • Leadership Changes
  • CAPE Grows
  • SCOTUS Rules
  • Trump Visits
  • And Much More

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Trump Calls on Congress to Enact School Choice


March 1, 2017 - Calling education the “civil rights issue of our time,” President Donald Trump, in his first address to a joint session of Congress, urged lawmakers to “pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children.” Families, said the president, “should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious, or home school that is right for them.”

The president punctuated his point with the remarkable story of Denisha Merriweather (right), a guest in the gallery, who, the president said, “struggled in school and failed third grade twice,” but then enrolled in a private school with the help of a tax credit scholarship and became “the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college.”

Read more about the the president's proposal in the March issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • New York's Governor Responds to Religious Bigotry
  • DeVos Takes Charge of Education Department
  • Scholarship Student Scores Primo Seat
  • How Students Spend Time at School
  • Trump to Visit Florida Catholic School
  • And Much More

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HELP Committee Confirms DeVos as Education Secretary


February 1, 2017 -The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee yesterday approved the nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education, clearing the path for a floor vote by the full Senate.

Prior to the 12-11 partisan vote, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the committee’s chairman, revealed that after questioning her for several hours on January 17 at her confirmation hearing, senators sent Mrs. DeVos roughly 1,400 follow-up questions. He called her “the most questioned education secretary in our history.”

Mrs. DeVos is a strong advocate for the right of parents to choose their child’s school. During her confirmation hearing, she said, “it’s time to shift the debate from what the system thinks is best for kids to what moms and dads want, expect, and deserve.”

Read more about the DeVos hearing in the February issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • School Choice Week Rally at U.S. Capitol
  • New Center for Education Policy
  • Poll Shows Wide Support for School Choice
  • The Stellar Education of Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch
  • Florida Supreme Court Ruling
  • And Much More

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Parent Satisfaction Highest in Private Schools


January 3, 2017 -- Private school parents are significantly more satisfied with the schools their children attend than are parents from other sectors, including public charter schools and public district schools. That finding comes from two new studies released by Education Next, a scholarly journal on school reform published by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The first study looked at results from a survey, commissioned by Education Next in May and June of 2016, of a nationally representative sample of 1,571 parents with children in school. The second study analyzed results from a survey of over 17,000 families conducted in 2012 by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The second study’s larger sample size allowed for a deeper dive into population subgroups.

Read more about both studies in the January issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Foxx in the House
  • Soul Craft
  • No One Way to School
  • Changes at NAIS and AMS
  • National School Choice Week
  • Much More

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Donald Trump Chooses Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary


December 1, 2016 -- President-elect Donald Trump has named Betsy DeVos as his nominee for education secretary, prompting widespread praise from advocates of school choice and signaling a likely sea change at the U.S. Department of Education.

Mrs. DeVos was chairman of the American Federation for Children (AFC), one of the nation’s premier promoters of comprehensive school choice, including vouchers, tax credit scholarships, education savings accounts, and charter schools.  During the most recent election cycle, the AFC successfully supported scores of pro-school-choice candidates in primary and general elections across the country.  The map of school choice states has expanded significantly in recent years because of AFC’s efforts, a growth documented in the organization’s annual School Choice Yearbook.

John F. Kirtley, vice chairman of the AFC, expressed the organization’s support for Mrs. DeVos: “For more than 20 years, Betsy has fought relentlessly for the right of every child—especially disadvantaged children—to receive a quality education of their parents’ choice. We are confident Betsy will take the same passion, commitment and leadership she’s shown in the school choice movement to the helm of the U.S. Department of Education.”

Read more about the nomination in the December issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Private Schools See Enrollment Uptick
  • USDE Issues ESSA Equitable Services Guidance
  • Forthcoming Changes at CAPE
  • School Choice Week
  • EdChoice Reports
  • Much More

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Millennials Prefer Private Schools


November 1, 2016 -- If given the opportunity to select whatever school they could for their child, more millennials would prefer a private school than any other option, according to a national poll released October 11 by EdChoice, formerly the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

Asked “If it were your decision and you could select any type of school, and financial costs and transportation were of no concern, what type of school would you select in order to obtain the best education for your child?” 43 percent of millennials said they would select a private school (including independent, parochial, and religious); 28 percent would choose a regular public school; 13 percent, a home school; and 8 percent said they would choose a charter school.

Read more about the poll in the November issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Application Deadline Fast Approaching for 2017 Blue Ribbon Schools Program
  • How Do Private School Students Do in Science?
  • ESSA Private School Guidance Starts to Flow
  • Religious Freedom
  • Outstanding School Leader
  • Much More

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SAT Scores Differ by Type of School


October 12, 2016 -- Call it a year of transition for the College Board’s SAT assessment. Some graduates of the class of 2016 took the old SAT, which was last administered in January 2016, and some took the new SAT, first administered in March 2016.

The average total score on the old SAT for 2016 graduates was 1484 out of a possible 2400.

However, scores varied significantly by the type of school students attended, with college-bound seniors in religious and independent schools scoring substantially higher than the national average.

Specifically, the average combined score of students in independent schools was 1645, or 161 points above national mean of 1484, while the average for religious school students was 1594, which was 110 points above the mean. Public school students scored 1453, or 31 points shy of the mean. (See CAPE's infographic on the SAT results.)

Read more about the scores in the October issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Mixed Ruling on ESAs in Nevada
  • ESSA Private School Guidance from USDE
  • Blue Ribbon Schools Named
  • Changes at CAPE

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Education Secretary King Announces 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools


October 4, 2016 -- U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King recently anounced the names of 329 schools identified by the U.S. Department of Education as the National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2016.

Schools were selected either because their test scores in reading and math placed them among the top-performing schools in the nation or state, or because they made notable improvements in closing achievement gaps.

Fifty private schools were among the awardees this year. Each state’s commissioner of education nominates public schools for the award, and CAPE nominates private schools. All winning schools will be honored at an awards ceremony November 7-8 in Washington, DC.

“National Blue Ribbon Schools are proof that we can prepare every child for college and meaningful careers, King said in a video message to honorees. “Your schools are on the cutting edge, pioneering innovative educational practices—professional learning communities, project-based learning, social and emotional learning, positive behavior systems—making you shining examples for your communities, your state and the nation.”

As a gauge of the program’s popularity, the U. S. Department of Education reported that on the day the winners were announced, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Web site received over 90,000 page views, with the news triggering “the third most popular social media event in history and the second most popular Facebook event.”


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Private Schools Boost College Degrees for Black Males

EagleSeptember 1, 2016 -- High-achieving black males who attend private high 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.

The study is among the scholarly resources included in the “Black Male Education Research Collection,” a new Web site launched by University of Texas College of Education Professors Louis Harrison and Anthony Brown 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.

Her findings were published in 2013 under the title “School Context, Precollege Educational Opportunities, and College Degree Attainment Among High-Achieving Black Males.”

While controlling for socioeconomic status or SES (a variable combining parent education and occupation along with family income), Dr. Rose looked at the impact on getting a college degree of (a) school location (urban, suburban, rural), (b) school sector (public or private), and (c) educational opportunities (participation in gifted and talented programs or AP courses).

This could be the study's most startling finding: “Of all the factors explored in the study, attending a private school was found to have the most influence on bachelor’s degree attainment among high-achieving black males.”

Read more about the study in the September issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Small Private School Network Produces Katie Ledecky and Several Other 2016 Olympic Athletes
  • 95 Percent of Private School Teachers Claim Job Satisfaction
  • Report Card Ranks School Choice Programs
  • Weekly Meds to Sooth Private School Educators
  • And Much More

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Private School Enrollment Grows

EagleJune 1, 2016 -- The number of private school students increased from 5.3 million to 5.4 million between 2011-12 and 2013-14, according to a report just released by the National Center for Education Statistics. That change drove the private school share of all U.S. students from 9.6 percent to 9.7 percent.

According to The Condition of Education 2016, “In 2013-14, some 38 percent of all private school students were enrolled in Catholic schools,” which accounted for 2.1 million students. Conservative Christian schools enrolled 707,000 students; other affiliated religious schools, 565,000; unaffiliated religious schools, 758,000, and nonsectarian schools, 1.3 million.

The report included several other eye-catching findings concerning students and teachers in private schools. For example, “A higher percentage of 2009 graduates from private schools (85 percent) had taken courses in algebra II/trigonometry than had graduates from traditional public schools (75 percent), and a higher percentage of graduates from private schools (23 percent) had taken courses in calculus than had graduates from public schools (15 percent).” Private school students also tended to take more science courses, with the report noting that “a higher percentage of private high school graduates (44 percent) had taken at least one credit in biology, chemistry, and physics than had graduates from traditional public schools (29 percent).”

Read more about the new report in the June issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Rights and Responsibilities in Choice Programs
  • Crime and Safety in Schools
  • Proposed Regulations on ESSA
  • Technology and Engineering Literacy Test
  • Meta-Analysis of Vouchers
  • And Much More

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Report: School Choice Drives School Improvement

EagleMay 1, 2016 -- What is the state of school choice in the United States and what effect is choice having on American education? Those are just two of the research questions addressed in an ambitious study released last month by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

The report, titled Pursuing Innovation: How Can Educational Choice Transform K–12 Education in the U.S.?, starts out by looking at school performance as measured by National Assessment of Educational Progress math and reading tests (see the latest NAEP results on p. 4). Over the past 30 years, NAEP scores “have improved only modestly, and then only very recently,” according to the report. But since 1971, “Real, inflation-adjusted spending in the U.S. on K–12 education has increased almost 300 percent.”

Given the massive increase in spending and the near-stagnant student performance, educational productivity in the nation’s schools has declined dramatically. Find out how school choice can improve that productivity in the May issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook this month:

  • Education Debit Cards: What’s in Your Wallet?
  • Balancing Freedom, Autonomy, and Accountability
  • James Coleman: North Star
  • New NAEP Math and Reading Results
  • House Approves DC Opportunity Scholarships Reauthorization
  • And Much More

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President Signs 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act

December 30, 2015 -- Earlier this month (12/18/15), President Obama signed a $1.8 trillion bipartisan spending and tax-cut bill, called the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The bill funds most government programs through September 2016.

The following table provides funding levels (column marked "FY 2016 Final") for key programs affecting private school students and teachers, and compares them to actual funding levels in FY 2015 as well as to levels proposed by President Obama.

Keep in mind that most education programs are “forward funded,” which means the FY 2016 levels will not take effect until the 2016-17 school year.


Federal Education Spending Levels (in millions of dollars)
Various Programs Affecting Private Schools
  FY 2015 Final Obama Proposal FY 2016 Final
Career Education (Perkins Act) $1,118 $1,318 $1,118
Community Learning Centers (IV-B) $1,152 $1,152 $1,167
English Language Acquisition (III-A) $737 $773 $737
Math & Science Partnerships (II-B) $153 $203 $153
Special Education (IDEA Part B-611) $11,498 $11,673 $11,913
Migrant Education (I-C) $375 $375 $375
Teacher Quality (II-A) $2,350 $2,350 $2,350
Title I (grants to LEAs) $14,410 $15,410 $14,910
Related Links:

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Students Exceed SAT Benchmark

AP Data

September 3, 2015 -- Average SAT scores for 2015 graduates from religious and independent schools significantly exceeded the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark, a combined score of 1550 on three SAT tests (critical reading, writing, and mathematics) that is associated with success in college.

For college-bound seniors in independent schools across the nation, the combined average SAT score was 1649 (99 points above the benchmark) while the average for religious school students was 1596 (46 points above the benchmark). Public school students scored 1462, which was 88 points shy of the standard.

In each of the subjects tested, SAT scores for college-bound seniors in religious and independent schools were significantly higher than the national average, actually helping to boost that average. Mean SAT scores for students in public schools were 489 in reading, 475 in writing, and 498 in math, while comparable scores for students in religious schools were 533, 527, and 536. Students in independent schools scored 532, 538, and 579. Among all members of the class of 2015 who took the test, average scores were 495 in reading, 484 in writing, and 511 in math. [Note: Figures in this last sentence are a correction from a table in an earlier version of this article.]

Among SAT class of 2015 students for whom a high school is known, 9 percent attended a religiously affiliated school, 7 percent attended an independent school, and 84 percent attended a public school. That translates into 139,975 students from religious schools, 107,110 from independent schools, and 1,332,096 from public schools. For 119,340 students, the type of high school was “other or unknown.” Overall, roughly 1.7 million students in the class of 2015 took the SAT.

More resources relating to the SAT results for 2015:

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