Early Education Policy Poses Key Question for Legislators
March 3, 2014 --Pre-K by conscription or choice? That’s how John Coons, professor of law, emeritus, at the University of California at Berkeley, frames a central question in the current debate about early education policy. Will parents be told by the government where to enroll their four-year-olds, or will they have a genuine choice of providers?
The question, writes Coons in a recent essay, dates back at least to Plato, who thought newborns in his ideal city should be stripped from their parents and subjected to the full-time care of specialists.
Coons reminds us that when it comes to post-K education in the United States, wealthy families get to select their child’s school, but “for the less fortunate family, it is difficult or impossible to avoid their child’s conscription for seven hours, five days a week” in a school designated by the government.
Policymakers now have to decide the extent to which the Platonic vision will influence pre-K policy, he writes. Will “lower-income families be subsidized in order to make their own choices among public, private, and religious providers”? Or will “pre-K school be designed as the government strong-arm long familiar to post-K families, especially those forced into public schools in the cities”?
The issue is currently playing out in the U.S. Congress.
Find out more in the March issue of CAPE Outlook.
Also in Outlook:
- One State Considers Early Ed Scholarships
- Another State Moves Towards Education Savings Accounts
- Private School Students at White House Film Festival
- Icy Weather Video Goes Viral
- Student Writes Amicus Brief
- And Much More
February 3, 2014 --With a college degree widely regarded as a ticket to success in life, it turns out that students attending private high schools are significantly more likely than other students to attain one.
According to a report released in January by the National Center for Education Statistics, tenth-graders in private high schools in 2002 were nearly twice as likely as their public school counterparts to receive a bachelor’s degree or higher by 2012. In turn, degree recipients were ultimately more successful in securing a job and realizing higher earnings—considerable consolation in an economy scarred by persistently high levels of unemployment.
Find out more in the February issue of CAPE Outlook.
Also in Outlook:
- Senators Unveil School Choice Legislation
- 5,500 Events Mark National School Choice Week
- Video Guide Covers the Essence of Montessori Education
- The ABCs of School Choice
- And much more
January 6, 2014 --Contentment with one’s career is a blessing to be cherished. Not everyone enjoys their job, but those who do seem to sense that they’re “at home,” fulfilling what they are called to do in a setting that feels right. Working conditions contribute a lot to such contentment. If one feels supported, affirmed, and appreciated, and perceives the workplace as pleasant, the contentment factor grows.
New data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) show some significant differences in job satisfaction and perceived working conditions between teachers in private schools and their counterparts in public schools. Despite earning lower salaries, teachers in private schools are more satisfied with their careers, feel more recognized and supported, and are less stressed about their job setting than teachers in public schools. They also report lower rates of problematic student behavior.
Find out more in the January issue of CAPE Outlook.
Also in Outlook:
- DC CAPE Overcomes Odds to Secure Equity for Students
- Episcopal Urban Schools Offer Excellence and Love
- Future Sotomayors
- NBA Superstar Talks about His Montessori Education
- Stats on Pre-K Enrollment in the U.S.A.
- And much more
December 2, 2013 -- Consider it a reason to press the pause button in the push to judge schools solely by test scores. A new survey of parents shows that assessment results are not even among the top ten reasons why families choose private schools.
Released last month by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the survey of parents participating in the Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program found, “Student performance on standardized test scores is one of the least important pieces of information upon which parents base their decision regarding the private school to which they send their children.”
According to the report, more than 85 percent of parents said they chose a private school for a “better learning environment” for their child, whereas 81.3 percent said the choice was made for a “better education.” The next two most common responses were “smaller class sizes” (80.5 percent) and “more individual attention for my child” (76.4 percent). Other reasons cited by a majority of parents were “religious education” (64.1 percent), “better preparation for college” (62.9 percent), “better student discipline” (61.7 percent), “more responsive teachers and administrators” (60.3 percent), and “improved student safety” (52.9 percent).”
“Higher standardized test scores” was the 15th highest-rated reason, with only 34.6 percent of respondents listing it at all, and only 10.2 percent listing it among their top five reasons.
Find out more in the December issue of CAPE Outlook.
Also in Outlook:
- NAEP Report Cards in Math and Reading
- Private School Ad Campaign Captures Public Attention
- Religious Schools: Proud History, Perilous Future
- Secretary Duncan's Advice for Private Schools
- Stop Requiring Choice Programs to Take State Tests
- And much more
November 7, 2013 -- Students in religious and independent schools showed a substantial performance advantage over students in government schools, according to the latest report cards in math and reading from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
The average reading scale score for eighth-graders attending private schools (285) was 19 points higher than the overall score for students attending public schools (266). Ten points on the 500-point scale is roughly equal to one grade level. In fourth grade, the public/private difference in reading was 14 points (235 vs. 221).
In math, the private school advantage was 12 points in grade 8 (296/284) and 5 points in grade 4 (246/241).
The report also presents results as percentages of students meeting various achievement levels. As the accompanying graphs and tables demonstrate, a significantly higher percentage of private school students scored at or above the basic, proficient, and advanced levels than public school students. According to the report, "Students performing at or above the Proficient level on NAEP assessments demonstrate solid academic performance and competency over challenging subject matter."
NAEP 2013 Reading Report Card
NAEP 2013 Math Report Card
- Visit the NAEP 2013 Math and Reading Web Site.
- Download the 2013 Math and Reading Report in PDF
- Use the NAEP Data Explorer to develop customized reports.
November 1, 2013 -- A central premise of the school choice movement is that parents know what’s best for their children. When they have a choice, parents tend to select schools that match their expectations of what a school should be. Making that match is a source of satisfaction.
A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics confirms the fact that parents who choose their child’s school are indeed more satisfied with the school and its various characteristics than parents who are assigned a school by the government. Looking at data from the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2012 (NHES:2012), the report centers on parent and family involvement in education.
Parents of 80 percent of students enrolled in a religious private school in 2011-12 and 82 percent of students in other private schools reported being “very satisfied” with their child’s school, compared to the parents of 56 percent of students in public schools to which their children were assigned and 62 percent of students in public schools that parents chose (e.g., charter schools and magnet schools). Higher percentages of private school parents than public school parents were also very satisfied with the teachers their children had and with the academic standards of the school (see table).
Find out more about the study in the November Outlook.
Also in Outlook:
- Collaborating with Charter Schools
- New Report: Aspirations, Courses, and Performance Differ by School
- CAPE Adds New Member and Two State Affiliates
- 100% of Participants Satisfied with Government Program
- Blue Ribbon Application to Be Released Soon
- And much more
October 2, 2013 -- Average SAT scores for 2013 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 1662 (112 points above the benchmark) while the average for religious school students was 1595 (45 points above the benchmark). Public school students scored 1474, 76 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 the average. Mean SAT scores for students in public schools were 491 in reading, 480 in writing, and 503 in math, while comparable scores for students in religious schools were 531, 528, and 536. Students in independent schools scored 536, 545, and 581.
Among SAT class of 2013 students for whom a high school is known, 9.4 percent attended a religiously affiliated school, 6.4 percent attended an independent school, and 84 percent attended a public school.
Find out more in the October Outlook.
Also in Outlook:
- Blue Ribbon Schools Named for 2013
- U.S. Dept. of Education Holds Conference for Private School Leaders
- Firestorm Over Louisiana Lawsuit
- And much more
For more SAT information:
National Blue Ribbon Schools Named
September 24, 2013 -- U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced today the names of 286 schools identified by the U.S. Department of Education as the National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2013.
Schools were selected either because their standardized test scores in reading and math placed them among the top-performing schools in the nation or state, or because they served disadvantaged students and made extraordinary progress in improving performance.
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 18-19 in Washington, D.C.
“Excellence in education matters, and we should honor the schools that are leading the way to prepare students for success in college and careers," said Secretary Duncan. "National Blue Ribbon Schools represent examples of educational excellence, and their work reflects the belief that every child in America deserves a world-class education."
For more information:
- List of Private Schools Receiving the Award
- CAPE's BRS Infographic
- U.S. Department of Education News Release
- USDE Announcement Page and Sec. Duncan's Video Remarks
September 3, 2013 -- Reports released this summer on two federal surveys provide, from an array of angles, a penetrating look at the state of private education in the United States.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in August released selected findings from the 2011-12 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), a nationally representative survey of public and private school principals and teachers.
The survey offers a rich assortment of information about schools, the people who run them, and the students who attend them. It turns out, for example, that 64 percent of graduates from all private high schools and 81 percent of graduates from Catholic high schools go on to a four-year college. The same is true for 40 percent of graduates from traditional public schools and 37 percent of graduates from public charter schools.
Read more about SASS as well as the Private School Universe Survey (PSS), a comprehensive count of the number of private schools, students, and teachers in the United States, in the September issue of CAPE Outlook.
Also in the September Outlook:
- Two New Polls on What Parents Think of Schools
- Justice Department Sues Louisiana Over Voucher Program
- New Jersey Set to Elect School Choice Senator
- And much more
A Dream Denied
August 29, 2013 -- What would Dr. King say today--fifty years after his “I Have a Dream” speech--about the education of black children in America? Dr. Vernard T. Gant, director of Urban School Services with the Association of Christian Schools International, a member of CAPE, offers a brilliant speculation. His essay is well worth the read.
“A quality education is a purchased commodity,” writes Gant. “It can be purchased either by paying tuition to private schools, or by paying higher mortgages and property taxes in neighborhoods with high-performing public schools.” But low-income families, who don’t have the purchasing power to secure a quality school, are forced to accept whatever is offered in their neighborhood public school, no matter what the quality. “To compound matters, they are often told, from the public’s standpoint, that they should never have a choice because if they did, it would financially cripple the public school system.” In other words, “the important thing is not the best interest or well-being of the child, but the best interest and well-being of the system.”
Gant suggests a remedy for the “educational injustice” facing families who are “systematically denied” a quality educatio. “Children who are now bound to schools that are not working for them need to be set free to find and attend schools that do.”
"It’s now time for this great nation, which values and identifies itself as the land of the free and the home of the brave, to do the brave thing--and the right thing," writes Gant. "It’s time to set these children free. Let them pursue an education that will truly afford them the opportunity to dream and to realize the American dream."
Read Gant’s entire essay here.
June 3, 2013 -- On a spring day in mid-May, enthusiastic advocates from across the country gathered at National Harbor, MD, to launch a two-day policy summit reviewing the past year’s remarkable accomplishments in the school choice movement and setting the groundwork for future progress.
Sponsored by the American Federation for Children, the event, which took place May 20 and 21 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, featured prominent speakers, such as former White House press secretary Mike McCurry (pictured right in a photo provided by the AFC).
Get CAPE's take on the summit and read about McCurry's six suggestions for school choice advocates in the June issue of Outlook.
Also in the June Outlook:
- Private schools urged to partner with police departments.
- Federal funds available for professional development.
- New data on course-taking in private schools.
- And much more.
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 calls 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.”
Read more about the study in the May issue of Outlook.
Also in the May Outlook:
- Obama budget threatens charitable giving.
- Private school students have above-average grasp of economics.
- It's win-win for school choice.
- Green Ribbon Schools named.
- And much more.
April 3, 2013 -- Students in private high schools are more likely than those in public schools to receive a diploma, attend a four-year college, and ultimately earn a bachelor’s degree, according to data complied by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) at the request of CAPE.
The findings hold true regardless of the race or ethnicity of students and should be of interest to policymakers determined to improve rates of high school graduation, college attendance, and college completion.
Find out more in the April issue of Outlook.
Also in the April Outlook:
- John Chubb explains how to get the best teachers in the world.
- The Brookings Institution’s Russ Whitehurst talks choice and pre-K to CAPE leaders.
- The Indy 5-0: How the unanimous Indiana Supreme Court decision might offer a Blaine Amendment roadmap for other states.
- Alabama becomes the latest school choice state.
- The Education Department’s Office of Non-Public Education experiences its own version of March Madness.
March 1, 2013 -- U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent a strong message to the private school community that the Obama administration is committed to keeping all students safe, no matter what type of school they attend.
In a historic 30-minute conference call February 12 with private school leaders from across the country, Duncan and Education Department staff described a far-reaching federal plan to bolster student safety—a plan prompted by the slaughter of students at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, this past December.
“We want to do everything we can to make our schools absolutely as safe as possible,” Duncan said, noting that “having fewer children being shot and fewer children living in fear… are goals we can all agree on.”
Find out details about the conference call in the March issue of Outlook.
Also in the March Outlook:
- Senator Rubio puts forth a bold school choice plan.
- President Obama seeks to expand public pre-K programs.
- DC students attend State of the Union address.
- Colorado Court of Appeals upholds school choice program.
- ACSI joins amicus brief on HHS Mandate.
- And much more.
December 17, 2012 -- The horrifying ending to the lives of innocent children in Connecticut last week has us all searching for ways to make sense of the senseless and bear the unbearable.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, students, and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School as well as to the wider community of Newtown in this time of unspeakable grief.
The U.S. Department of Education today compiled a collection of resources to help school communities across the nation respond to the crisis and to help school children cope with the trauma. We provide the links to those documents below and urge school leaders and parents to draw also from resources within their own faith tradition.
Resources from the National Association of School Psychologists:
Private School Students Surpass National Average in Writing
September 14, 2012 -- In the age of image sharing, text messaging, and Facebook, are students able to write a readable paragraph? The federal government just released results from an assessment of the writing skills of the nation’s students, and the findings are mixed.
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Writing 2011 report, 80 percent of eighth-grade students across the nation scored at or above the Basic level of achievement, but only 27 percent scored at or above the Proficient level, demonstrating “solid academic performance.”
Results vary by type of school. Ninety-two percent of private school students and 79 percent of public school students scored at the Basic level or higher. Forty-one percent of private school students and 26 percent of public school students scored at or above the Proficient level (see table).
On the test’s 300-point measurement scale, with the mean set at 150 and a standard deviation of 35, the average score for eighth-grade students in private schools was 164, while that for students in public schools was 149. By way of reference, the 50th percentile score for the nation was 151; the 75th percentile score was 175, and the score at the 25th percentile was 127.
NAEP 2011 Writing Report Card
- Visit the NAEP 2011 Writing Web Site.
- Download the 2011 Writing Report in PDF
- Use the NAEP Data Explorer to develop customized reports.
August 23, 2012 -- In the first randomized experiment of its kind, a study out of Harvard University and the Brookings Institution has found that African American students who used vouchers to enroll in private elementary schools were 24 percent more likely to attend college than their non-voucher winning peers.
The study tracked low-income students who in the 1990s were offered scholarships of up to $1,400 through a privately funded program in New York City called the New York School Choice Scholarships Foundation Program (SCSF).
In an article about the report in The Wall Street Journal today, authors Matthew M. Chingos, research director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, and Paul E. Peterson, director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University, quoted the mother of one of the voucher students back in 1999: "I have an 8-year-old in third grade, and she's doing great. It's miraculous the way she has changed." According to Chingos and Peterson, “The cause of the change was clear. It came from the power of parental choice in education. It wasn't ‘miraculous’—unless you happen to be one of the parents directly involved.”
The report, titled "The Effects of School Vouchers on College Enrollment: Experimental Evidence from New York City," is available in a PDF version here.
August 22, 2012 --If you graduated from a private high school this past June, you were significantly more likely than graduates of other schools to be ready for college coursework, according to data compiled by ACT, the college admission testing company.
Eighty-three percent of 2012 graduates of religious and independent schools who took the ACT met or surpassed the test’s college readiness benchmark score in English, compared to 64 percent of graduates from public schools. The share of students who met the benchmark scores in other subjects was also higher in private schools (reading – 68 percent vs. 50 percent; math – 60 vs. 44; science – 42 vs. 29).
According to the ACT, college readiness benchmarks “are the minimum scores needed on the ACT subject area tests to indicate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses.”
The ACT today released a report titled The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2012, which summarizes the national performance of ACT-tested students. At CAPE’s request, the company compiled comparable data for private school graduates.
ACT Scores Higher
Average actual ACT scores for 2012 graduates of private schools were significantly above the national average. The ACT mean composite score for 2012 private school graduates was 23.2, compared to 20.8 for public school graduates, and the private school advantage remained steady across all subject areas: English – 23.5 vs. 20.1, reading – 23.5 vs. 21.0, math – 22.8 vs. 20.9, and science – 22.5 vs. 20.7.
The ACT scoring scale ranges from 1 to 36, and seemingly small differences in the scale score can represent significant percentile shifts. For example, an ACT English score of 20 has a national percentile rank of 50 among all ACT-tested students in the class of 2012, meaning that 50 percent of graduates who took the ACT English test scored a 20 or below. But an English scale score of 24 places a student at the 74th percentile. In other words, a four-point scale difference on the English test represents, at least in this example, a 24-point percentile difference.
August 8, 2012 --Private school students are nearly twice as likely as students in general to give their schools a grade of "A," according to a national survey released today.
Asked, “If you could give your current school a grade from A to F, what grade would you give it?” six out of every ten students in private high schools awarded their schools the highest grade possible, while one in three students overall did so.
The 2012-2013 State of Our Nation’s Youth report, produced by the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, covers the perspectives of young people on a host of issues. Some 1,500 individuals participated in the survey.
January 4, 2012 -- The House and Senate last month passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2012, a nearly $1 trillion spending package to pay for key operations of the government, including defense, health, and education. President Obama signed the bill December 23.
The following table provides funding levels for key programs affecting private schools.
|Federal Education Spending Levels (in millions of dollars)
Various Programs Affecting Private Schools
|FY 2010 Final||FY 2011 Final||FY 2012 Final|
|Career Education (Perkins Act)||$1,161||$1,122||$1,123|
|Community Learning Centers (IV-B)||$1,166||$1,154||$1,152|
|English Language Acquisition (III-A)||$750||$734||$732|
|Math & Science Partnerships (II-B)||$180||$175||$150|
|Special Education (IDEA Part B-611)||$11,505||$11,466||$11,578|
|Migrant Education (I-C)||$395||$394||$393|
|Teacher Quality (II-A)||$2,948||$2,465||$2,467|
|Title I (grants to LEAs)||$14,492||$14,443||$14,516|
October 6, 2010 -- Acknowledging a strong personal connection with private education, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan met twice with religious and independent school leaders last month—first with CAPE’s board of directors September 21 and then, the following day, with attendees at a private school leadership conference sponsored by the Education Department’s Office of Non-Public Education (ONPE).
“I am a product of a phenomenal private school,” Duncan said at the ONPE event. “And a big reason why I went into education is that I knew every day growing up how lucky my sister and brother and I were to go to an extraordinary school.”
Striking a similar theme at the CAPE meeting, the secretary said he had “tremendous respect” for the schools that CAPE represents--schools that collectively do “an extraordinary job of educating children around the country.”