Council for American Private Education

Voice of America's Private Schools

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U.S. Education Department Hosts Private School Leaders


October 2, 2015 -- “Where would America be without private schools?” That provocative question was posed last month during the keynote address at the annual National Private School Leadership Conference in Washington, DC, sponsored by the Office of Non-Public Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

The speaker posing the question was Gerard Robinson, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former commissioner of education for the State of Florida and secretary of education for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Robinson kicked off his address with a quote from the Northwest Ordinance of 1787: “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” His talk centered on the variety of means available to deliver education to all children and the important role of private schools as one of those means.

Find out more about what Dr. Robinson had to say in the October issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook:

  • Students Surpass SAT Average
  • Goodbye, Mr. Speaker
  • Pope Visits Catholic School in East Harlem
  • 2015 Blue Ribbon Schools Named
  • And Much More

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Education Secretary Duncan Announces 2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools


September 29, 2015 -- U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the names of 335 schools identified by the U.S. Department of Education as the National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2015.

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 9-10 in Washington, DC.

“This honor recognizes your students’ accomplishments and the hard work and dedication that went into their success,” Duncan said in a video message to the awardees. “Your journey has taught you collaboration, intentional instruction, and strong relationships in school and with your community. You represent excellence—in vision, in implementation, and in results—and we want to learn as much as we can from you.”

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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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Survey Reveals Public’s Preference for Private Schools

AP Data

September 1, 2015 -- If they were given the opportunity to select whatever school they could for their child, more Americans would prefer a private school than any other option, according to a national poll released this summer by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and Braun Research, Inc.

Asked “If it were your decision and you could select any type of school, what type of school would you select in order to obtain the best education for your child?” 41 percent of Americans said they would select a private school; 36 percent chose a regular public school; 12 percent, a charter school; and 9 percent said they would homeschool their child.

The preference for private schools was also reflected in how Americans rated different types of schools. Respondents were asked to give a grade of A through F to the schools in their area. As the report put it: “When examining only those responses giving grades to different school types in their communities, we observed approximately 46% of the national sample gave an A or B to local public schools; 83% graded an A or B to local private/parochial schools; and 63% gave an A or B to charter schools [see graph]. Only 4% of respondents gave a D or F grade to private schools; 14% gave low grades to charter schools; and 10% assigned poor grades to area public schools.”

Find out more about the poll’s fascinating findings in the September issue of CAPE Outlook.

Also in Outlook:

  • School Choice Expands This Summer
  • Presidential Hopefuls Testify to the Power of Teachers
  • Religious Schools Urged to be Clear and Unapologetic About Mission
  • New Data on School Safety
  • And Much More

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Private School Students Take AP Exams at Above-Average Rates

AP Data

June 1, 2015 -- Last month, more than two million high school students endured more than four million Advanced Placement (AP) exams in an effort to get a jump on college credit and demonstrate college readiness.

A lot is riding on those exams. Students who do well can cut college expenses or take upper-level college classes. College credits earned in high school can also pave the way for a double major or a semester overseas. The College Board, which publishes the exams, says students who attain an AP score of 3 or higher not only earn higher GPAs in college than their peers, but are also more likely to actually graduate.

With AP courses serving as one indicator of the extent to which high schools challenge students and prepare them for college, CAPE obtained from the College Board summary data about AP exams and scores for students in private schools who took the tests in 2014.

It turns out that private school students took a disproportionately high number of AP exams and scored higher than average on those exams. What's more, private schools had a greater percentage than public schools of students with scores of 3 or more, and had narrower black/white achievement gaps.

Find out more about AP exams in private schools in the June issue of CAPE Outlook .

Also in Outlook :

  • Nevada Legislators Approve the Nation's First Universal Education Savings Account Program
  • NY Governor Cuomo Goes All Out for Parent Choice
  • Tale of Two Boys from Baltimore
  • Feds Look at Parent Satisfaction with Schools
  • Student Coursetaking in Science and Math
  • And Much More...

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Montana Becomes Newest School Choice State


image: © niroworld/Dollar Photo Club

May 12, 2015 -- Montana joined the school choice community yesterday when Governor Steve Bullock allowed a tax credit scholarship bill to become law by default -- without his signature or veto.

On April 24, the Montana House and Senate approved a conference committee version of legislation to provide individual taxpayers and businesses a dollar-for-dollar tax credit worth up to $150 for contributions to private school scholarship organizations and/or to an innovative education fund for the state’s public schools.

The total amount of tax credits statewide may not exceed $3 million for each component of the program, but if the aggregate limit is reached in a given year, the state must increase the limit by 10 percent for the succeeding year.

In Montana, the governor has ten days to veto a bill before it becomes law by default.  Having vetoed similar legislation in the past, the Governor Bullock's inaction on the measure came as a welcome surprise to choice supporters.

The new program, which takes effect January 1, 2016, defines a student scholarship organization as a charitable organization exempt from federal income tax that allocates not less than 90 percent of its revenue to scholarships. 

Any school-age child in the state is eligible for a scholarship, which may not exceed 50 percent of the average per-pupil expenditure in the state’s public schools.  Scholarship organizations may not limit access to a particular school; nor may donors direct their contributions to specific students or schools. 

Participating private schools must administer a nationally recognized standardized test and make the results available to parents.  If a school has students in eighth-grade or eleventh-grade, it must administer the test in those grades and make the overall results public on either the school’s Web site or the Web site of the state’s Office of Public Instruction.  Schools must also satisfy any health and safety requirements that apply to private schools in the state.

The new law makes Montana the 25th state in the country that has one or more private school choice programs.  That count excludes town “tuitioning” programs in Maine and Vermont as well as scholarship programs in the District of Columbia and Douglas County, Colorado.

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April an Abundant Month for Parent Choice


May 1, 2015 -- As it brought nature to abundant life, April brought hope to children, with legislatures in six states approving measures to expand the right of parents to choose their child’s school.

Lawmakers in Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, and Tennessee thrust the school choice movement into warp drive with an impressive mix of new programs, including education savings accounts, vouchers, tax credits, and tax-credit scholarships. Except for Montana, all the bills have been, or likely will be, signed into law.

The flurry of legislative activity this spring will bring to 24 the number of states with private school choice programs, not counting town “tuitioning” programs in Maine and Vermont or scholarship programs in the District of Columbia and Douglas County, Colorado.

Find out more about the abundant April in the May issue of CAPE Outlook .

Also in Outlook :

  • Students Don't Know Much About History
  • Same-Sex Marriage, Supreme Court, and Private Schools
  • President Obama Reflects on "Undeniable Power" of Private School Teacher
  • NAES Celebrates 50th Anniversary
  • School Educates "All God's Children"
  • And Much More...

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Scholarship Tax Credit Bill Introduced in Congress


April 1, 2015 -- As the spring brings new buds, a new Congress brings new bills. To date, members of the 114th Congress have had no trouble planting their fair share of legislative proposals (nearly 3,000 and counting), many focusing on education, and some even promising real reform.

Two bills that fall in the latter category are S. 809 and H.R. 1511, Senate and House versions of the Educational Opportunities Act, which would empower low-income parents to choose the best schools for their children by providing a federal tax credit for donations to private school scholarship funds.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, introduced the bills in their respective chambers.

“It is shameful that the only parents in our country who don’t have choice regarding their children’s education are parents living in poverty,” said Rubio. “This bill will ensure every parent and child has access to a school that best suits their learning needs where they can thrive and go on to become America’s future leaders.”

Congressman Rokita said the bill “would help thousands of students from low- and middle-income families attend schools of their choice.” He added that the legislation “capitalizes on Americans’ generosity and would increase access to educational opportunities without spending more money.”

Find out more about the bill in the April issue of CAPE Outlook .

Also in Outlook :

  • Rick Hess to CAPE Leaders: Bust Out of Your Cages
  • College Board President to CAPE Leaders: Students Need More Opportunities
  • School Choice on the March
  • NY Gov. Cuomo Explains Why He Supports Choice
  • And Much More...

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Senator Sponsors Capitol Hill Forum on Choice

Sen. Scott

March 2, 2015 -- United States Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), one of Capitol Hill’s most active and ardent advocates for school choice, sponsored a full-day forum last month to discuss what his office described as “the urgency of promoting academic excellence for every child, regardless of family income, socioeconomic status or background.”

Titled “Choosing Excellence,” the event featured a stellar lineup of elected officials and experts, all encouraging an expansion of the ability of parents to choose their child’s school.

Raised by a single mom under challenging circumstances, Senator Scott told the assembly of parents, students, and supporters of choice that his years in school taught him “the power of education,” which he said is truly “the power of freedom.”

Without choice, said Scott, parents cannot secure for their children the education necessary for their success, achievement, and significance. “And so the issue of school choice for me is part of my DNA,” he added.

Find out more about the forum in the March issue of CAPE Outlook

Also in Outlook :

  • Senator Lamar Alexander Looks at Past, Present, and Future of Choice
  • What Private School Officials Think of Choice Programs
  • Truthiness
  • Turn and Face the Strain
  • And Much More...

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Survey Looks at the Steps Involved in Choosing a Private School


February 2, 2015 -- What prompts parents to consider enrolling their children in a private school? What factors move them to settle on one particular school over another? And what do they think about the way they are treated during the application and admission process? A comprehensive survey of over 2,300 parents who recently experienced that very process yields some fascinating and valuable results for private school officials in charge of recruiting students and families.

The survey was conducted in May and June of 2014 on behalf of the Secondary School Admission Test Board (SSATB), an organization that, according to its mission statement, is devoted to “meeting the admission assessment and enrollment needs of schools, students, and families.” Engagingly presented as a train trip that parents take from first consideration of a school, through campus tours, into the application process, and finally arriving at a decision, the survey report, titled The Ride to Independent Schools, captures the journey from start to finish. Positioned throughout the text are helpful markers alerting admission officials about steps they can take to make the “ride” more pleasant and successful.

Find out more about the report in the February issue of CAPE Outlook .

Also in Outlook :

  • Senator and Researcher Intersect at National Forum
  • Capitol Hill Celebrates School Choice Week
  • NY Governor Cuomo Backs Scholarship Tax Credits
  • School Choice at the Super Bowl
  • And Much More...

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Federal Report Looks at Crime and Safety in Schools


January 2, 2015 -- One of the top expectations parents have of schools is that they be safe and secure.  Mothers don’t want their sons to be threatened or hurt; fathers don’t want their daughters taunted or bullied, and everyone wants schools where learning can occur without fear, disruption, or disorder.

A new federal report describes how well schools are meeting those expectations. Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2013 offers the most recent data on what it describes as “the current state of school crime and safety across the nation.”

The document examines the data through various filters, including the type of school students attend.  One measure worth noting:  In 2011, “approximately 19 percent of students ages 12–18 attending public schools reported that gangs were present at their school, compared with 2 percent of students attending private schools.”

Find out more about the report in the January issue of CAPE Outlook .

Also in Outlook :

  • Marco Rubio and Condoleezza Rice Promote Parent Choice
  • Experts Discuss School Accountability
  • School War Truce
  • Black Male Success in College
  • And Much More...

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President Signs 2015 Omnibus Spending Bill

December 16, 2014 -- President Obama signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that Congress passed last week. The bill funds most government programs through September 2015.

The following table provides funding levels for key programs affecting private school students and teachers.

Federal Education Spending Levels (in millions of dollars)
Various Programs Affecting Private Schools
  FY 2014 Final Obama Proposal FY 2015 Final
Career Education (Perkins Act) $1,117 $1,117 $1,117
Community Learning Centers (IV-B) $1,149 $1,149 $1,152
English Language Acquisition (III-A) $723 $723 $737
Math & Science Partnerships (II-B) $150 $0 $153
Special Education (IDEA Part B-611) $11,473 $11,573 $11,498
Migrant Education (I-C) $375 $375 $375
Teacher Quality (II-A) $2,350 $0 $2,350
Title I (grants to LEAs) $14,385 $14,385 $14,410
Related Links:

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National Summit Shines Spotlight on School Reform

Young Lady

December 2, 2014 -- It’s tough to bring an audience of no-nonsense businesspeople, policy advocates, and legislators to tears, but that’s exactly what Denisha Merriweather managed to do last month with an inspiring story of triumph over adversity.

Denisha beat the odds. During moving remarks at the 2014 National Summit on Education Reform, she recounted a life of challenge: born into poverty, disruptive in class, held back twice, and hating school. Her likely path was that of so many similar students: dropping out, having a baby, and spending the rest of her life “trying to make ends meet.”

But a caring godmother, Florida’s tax credit scholarship program, and Esprit de Corps Center for Learning in Jacksonville “changed everything,” said Denisha. “The teachers there challenged me to make the honor roll, and I embraced that challenge. The school’s small size and faith-based environment made me feel welcome. For the first time in my life, I woke up in the morning looking forward to school.”

Find out more about Denisha's inspiring story in the December issue of CAPE Outlook .

Also in Outlook :

  • Parents Make Strides in Midterm Elections
  • 400 Issues and 40 Years of Outlook
  • Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Signed into Law
  • National Distinguished Principals Named
  • And Much More...

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Private School Students Boost National SAT Scores

SAT Table

November 3, 2014 -- The headlines in early October captured some of the story:  “2014 SAT Scores Remain Stagnant,” “Student Performance Stalls on SAT.”  They reflected what the College Board itself reported:  SAT scores for the 2014 crop of high school graduates were stubbornly stuck at levels “similar to other recent senior classes.”

But the fixation on stagnation largely ignored another important element of the story:  scores varied significantly by the type of school students attended.  It turns out that students who graduated from religious and independent schools had scores that substantially outdistanced those of students in public schools and actually helped lift the national average.  Mean SAT scores for public school seniors were 492 in reading, 478 in writing, and 501 in math.  Comparable scores for students in independent schools were 535, 542, and 580.  Meanwhile, students in religious schools scored 533, 527, and 537 (see table).

Find out more about how private school students did on the SATs in the November issue of CAPE Outlook .

Also in Outlook :

  • New Webinar Helps Schools Develop Their Value Narratives
  • Satellite Broadcast Delivers Professional Development
  • Private Schools Heal Divisions
  • School Starter Checklist
  • Court Upholds Textbook Aid

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Education Secretary Meets with CAPE’s Board

Education Secty. Arne Duncan

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.”

For more on this story, download the October issue of CAPE Outlook . Receive Outlook free of charge each month.

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