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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
slide6
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