Study Finds Advantages for Students in Faith-Based Schools
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.
Nation Considers Measures to Keep Students Safe
February 1, 2013 -- Within hours after the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Americans began a soul-searching dialogue on how to keep students safe. More than a month later, the discussion continues.
The February issue of Outlook explores President Obama’s proposals to improve school safety and also looks at how the private school community has weighed in on the discussion.
Also in the February Outlook:
- Justice Sotomayor is heartbroken that her elementary school is closing.
- The nation celebrates National School Choice Week like never before.
- The National Association of Independent Schools announces a new president.
- A federal appeals panel rules that school districts need not provide Section 504 services to students in private schools.
- And much more.
January 2, 2013 -- The agreement that Congress approved January 1 to avert the “fiscal cliff” includes numerous provisions whose implications are still being sifted by Washington observers, but several components of the complex and dense law, called the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, are already known to carry clear consequences for private education. Find out more in the January issue of CAPE Outlook.
Also in the January Outlook:
- Louisiana Governor Jindal on School Reform
- Private School Students Above Average in Vocabulary
- New Voice for School Choice
- Public/Private School Compact in Boston
- 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:
December 3, 2012 -- A simple response to a sharp question captured a recurring theme at a Washington education policy summit. Former New York City schools chief Joel Klein and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were asked during a keynote session to identify their priority strategy for improving education. Without hesitation, they both named school choice.
It turns out that comprehensive parental choice was a prominent feature within a broad framework of school reform presented at the Excellence in Action National Summit on Education Reform that took place in Washington, D.C., November 27 and 28. Find out more in the December issue of CAPE Outlook.
Also in the December Outlook:
- Blended learning carries promise for religious schools
- Nonprofits worry about limits on charitable giving
- Recent court decisions bring good news and bad news
- and much more
November 1, 2012 -- The story of a single school exemplifies the findings of a new study on the interplay between charter schools and Catholic schools. For 112 years, Saint Casimir Catholic School in Albany, NY, was a neighborhood anchor—until it closed in 2009. Three charter schools opened in the immediate neighborhood of Saint Casimir, draining the school’s enrollment and forcing it to shut down.
Saint Casimir School is not alone. Abraham M. Lackman, a scholar-in-residence at Albany Law School’s Government Law Center, reports that “of the 2,400 students in the Albany charter schools, approximately 1,000 students were siphoned from the Catholic school system.” Statewide, he estimates that about one-third of the current 60,000 students in charter schools in New York State come from Catholic schools. The results have been a slew of Catholic school closings, a drain on government budgets, and $320 million in added costs to taxpayers. Without changes in public policy that level the playing field, more schools are likely to close and costs will continue to climb.
Lackman chronicles the relationship between charter schools and Catholic schools in New York State in “The Collapse of Catholic School Enrollment: The Unintended Consequence of the Charter School Movement.” Read about his findings in the November issue of CAPE Outlook.
Also in the November Outlook:
- major new scholarly work on U.S. faith-based schools
- poll results on school choice
- the case for pluralism in education
- free high school curriculum from Teachers College on the federal budget
- and much more
October 3, 2012 -- The College Board reported last month that “only 43 percent of SAT takers in the class of 2012 graduated from high school with the level of academic preparedness associated with a high likelihood of college success.” The findings reflect the percentage of students who met or exceeded the SAT College & Career Readiness Benchmark, a combined score of 1550 on three SAT tests (critical reading, writing, and mathematics), “which research shows is associated with higher rates of enrollment in four-year colleges, higher first-year college GPAs and higher rates of retention beyond the first year.” Specifically, the 1550 score “indicates a 65 percent likelihood of achieving a B- average or higher during the first year of study at a four-year college,” according to the College Board.
Performance against the SAT benchmark varied by type of school. For college-bound seniors in public schools across the nation, the combined average SAT score was 1477, 73 points shy of the benchmark, while the average for religious school students was 1594 (44 points above the benchmark) and that for independent school students was 1667, exceeding the benchmark by 117 points.
Similarly, in each of the subjects tested, SAT scores for college-bound seniors in religious and independent schools were significantly higher than the national average. Average SAT scores for students in public schools were 481 in writing, 491 in reading, and 505 in math, while comparable scores for students in religious schools were 529, 531, and 534. Students in independent schools scored 548, 539, and 580.
Find out more about SAT scores in the October issue of CAPE Outlook.
Also in the October Outlook:
- Secretary Duncan Meets with Private School Leaders
- Commission on Faith-based Schools Established
- Blue Ribbon Schools
- And Much More
September 28, 2012 -- Want to hear a succinct and impassioned case for school choice? Listen to what Viola Davis (The Help, Doubt, Won’t Back Down) has to say about the subject during a recent appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
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.
September 7, 2012 -- U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the names of 269 schools identified by the U.S. Department of Education as the National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2012.
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 12-13 in Washington, D.C.
"Our nation has no greater responsibility than helping all children realize their full potential," Duncan said. "Schools honored with the National Blue Ribbon Schools award are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise and that education is the surest pathway to a strong, secure future."
Click here to see the list of award-winning private schools.
Charter Schools Draw Students from Private Schools
September 6, 2012 -- Charter schools are drawing a large share of students from private schools, presenting “a potentially devastating impact on the private education market, as well as a serious increase in the financial burden on taxpayers,” according to a new study published by the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom.
The center commissioned Richard Buddin, adjunct senior economist with the RAND Corporation, to look at the effects of charter schools on other schools. The findings are alarming.
Buddin’s report, titled The Impact of Charter Schools on Public and Private School Enrollments, found that “about 8 percent of charter elementary students and 11 percent of middle and high school students are drawn from private schools.” But the charter impact on private schools in highly urban areas is much greater in that “private schools contribute 32, 23, and 15 percent of charter elementary, middle, and high school enrollments, respectively.”
In a companion piece to the Buddin study, Adam Schaeffer, a policy analyst with the center, argues that charter schools “take a significant portion of their students from private schools, causing a drop in private enrollment, driving some schools entirely out of business, and thereby raising public costs while potentially diminishing competition and diversity in our education system overall.”
Asking whether the “negative, unintended consequences of charter school reform” can be mitigated, Schaeffer concludes that indeed they can be “by enacting good private school choice reform, such as education tax credit programs.” Such reforms “will prevent the erosion of private educational options while driving greater competition across the board."
Find out more about Buddin's and Schaeffer's reports in the September issue of CAPE Outlook.
Also in the September Outlook:
- ACT Report on Private School Performance
- Vouchers Improve College Attendance for Black Students
- Montessori Google Doodle
- Olympic Athletes
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.
June 30, 2012 -- Shortly before a midnight budget deadline on the last day of June, lawmakers in Pennsylvania approved an Educational Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program designed to provide school choice to low- and middle-income students who live within the attendance areas of the state’s worst schools. The measure was part of a broader tax code bill that passed 140-56 in the House and 48-1 in the Senate.
The new program encourages businesses to contribute to organizations providing scholarships to students eligible to attend public schools that rank among the bottom 15 percent on state achievement tests. Up to 90 percent of a contribution can qualify for a tax credit, with a maximum credit per business of $400,000 the first year and $750,000 each year thereafter. The total aggregate amount of all tax credits is capped at $50 million annually.
To receive a scholarship, students must come from households that fall at or below an annual income threshold, which in the program’s first year is $60,000 plus $12,000 for each dependent and, starting July 1, 2013, increases to $75,000/$15,000, with both amounts adjusted upwards for inflation each year after that. Scholarships are worth a maximum of $8,500. For students with disabilities, the income eligibility base is adjusted upward and scholarships are worth a maximum of $15,000.
In addition to enacting the new tax credit, legislators made adjustments to the state’s existing Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) by raising the statewide cap from $75 million to $100 million and by increasing both the donor tax credit cap and the income eligibility levels to match the amounts in the Educational Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit.
June 28, 2012 -- Add New Hampshire to the growing list of states adopting scholarship tax credit legislation. In decisive votes yesterday, the state House and Senate each reached the two-thirds majority necessary to override Governor John Lynch’s recent veto of Senate Bill 372, which provides a tax credit to businesses that contribute to organizations providing scholarships for students to attend private schools or home schools. The Senate voted 16-7, and the House 236-108.
The bill provides scholarships averaging $2,500 for private school students and not more than $650 for home school students, with amounts adjusted after the first year based on the Consumer Price Index.
Scholarships are limited to students from families with annual incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty line. Seventy percent of scholarships in the program’s first year must go to students enrolled in public schools, and 40 percent of those must go to students who qualify for the federal free and reduced-price meal program. For students with special needs, scholarship amounts must have a minimum value of $4,375. The state’s education department estimates that 1,544 students will receive scholarships in FY 2014, growing to 2,850 students by FY 2016.
Businesses would receive tax credits worth 85 percent of their donation, subject to a statewide program cap of $3.4 million the first year and $5.1 million the second. Depending on demand, the cap could increase by as much as 25 percent in subsequent years.
In addition to the direct accountability to parents that private schools provide, the bill requires scholarship-granting organizations to conduct “scholarship impact surveys” of participating parents, measuring levels of satisfaction with the program and whether the parent has seen appreciable academic improvement. Scholarship organizations must also report the number of participants in the program who graduated or dropped out of high school, as well as the number who are attending college or are otherwise employed or unemployed.
Charles M. Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy in Concord, was one of many individuals who worked hard to get the legislation passed. The day of the vote he penned a piece in The Union Leader urging lawmakers to support the measure. He quoted from a recent editorial in The Washington Post on the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: “the opportunity to send their children to better schools — a choice taken for granted by many Americans, including some who are in Congress and the White House — is something beyond measure.”
New Hampshire is the 11th state to enact scholarship tax credit legislation. The others are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
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|
November 2, 2011 -- 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 Center for Education Statistics. As the reading report put it, “In 2011, the average reading score for eighth-graders attending public schools was 19 points lower than the overall score for students attending private schools.”
Private school eighth-graders had a mean reading score of 282, compared to 264 for public school students. (The one-point discrepancy from the quote is due to rounding.) Ten points on the 500-point scale represent roughly one full grade level. In fourth grade, the public/private difference in reading was 14 points (234 vs. 220). In math, the private school advantage was 13 points in grade 8 (296/283) and 7 points in grade 4 (247/240).
The report also presents results as percentages of students meeting various achievement levels. As the following 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: “Basic denotes partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work at each grade. Proficient represents solid academic performance. Students reaching this level have demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter. Advanced represents superior performance.”
NAEP 2011 Math Report Card
- Visit the NAEP 2011 Math Web Site.
- Download the 2011 Math Report in PDF
- Use the NAEP Data Tool to develop customized reports.
NAEP 2011 Reading Report Card
- Visit the NAEP 2011 Reading Web Site.
- Download the 2011 Reading Report in PDF
- Use the NAEP Data Explorer to develop customized reports.
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.”