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Is There a Net Advantage of Private Schools?. Timothy Lum Department of Sociology University of Washington UWBHS Conference October 19th, 2007. Research Question.

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Is there a net advantage of private schools

Is There a Net Advantage of Private Schools?

Timothy Lum

Department of Sociology

University of Washington

UWBHS Conference

October 19th, 2007


Research question
Research Question

  • Are private schools really better at sending students to college because of school quality or because of the students they admit?


Background
Background

  • Education is the major avenue of opportunity in the United States

    • Then, improvement of schools is major policy goal

  • But what are good schools?

    • Most research has shown that home environment is more influential


Research on school effects
Research on School Effects

  • Students in private schools

    • Better test scores and are more likely to go to college, net of family SES

  • But questions remain:

    • Selectivity of students

    • Private school mechanisms

      • Teaching

      • Peers

      • Discipline



Data

  • UWBHS 2003 - 2005 student responses including follow-up survey

  • Only public and private schools that were included in the 2003 survey

  • Alternative schools not included

  • Final sample - 7,163

  • Follow-up sample - 6,668

  • 13 percent in private schools


Educational outcomes
Educational Outcomes

  • Ambitional

    • “How far would you like to go…”

    • “Realistically…how far do you think…”

    • “Do you plan to go on to college…this fall”

  • Behavioral

    • Actual enrollment at any college or a four-year college




Variables used in analysis
Variables Used in Analysis

  • Self-Selection

    • Family background variables

    • Family motivation

    • Demographics

  • School Quality

    • Teaching quality

    • School environment

    • Peer effects and motivation


Findings
Findings

  • Private school attendance makes a difference

    • Despite controlling for self selection

    • Inspite of differences in student’s perceptions of school quality

  • Let’s examine the relative odds ratio of the private school indicator…



Findings1
Findings

  • As the reality of the ambition increases, the influence of family socioeconomic background and selection variables increases with it



Findings2
Findings

  • As the reality of the ambition increases, the influence of family socioeconomic background and selection variables increases with it

  • Transitioning between ambitions and behavior, family socioeconomic status becomes the major explanation


Findings3
Findings

  • Only one consistently significant “quality” variable - Peer motivation

  • Peer motivation and influences have the single largest effect on college ambitions and attendance

  • Could be classified as both a selection and quality variable - unsure of the true source of influence


Conclusion
Conclusion

  • Selection is a very important factor in determining the differences between public and private schools - much more so than school quality variables

  • Peer influence and motivation for college is the single most important factor

  • These findings reinforce the previous research done since the 1960s


Conclusion1
Conclusion

  • Some other aspects of private schools unexplained in this study… both unmeasured self-selection and unmeasured school quality

  • Future research

    • Origin of peer selection - parental or individual

    • Need to control for some aspect of previous ability and whether it was used in the selection process for schools



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