Charlottesville, Va., July 10, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The University of Virginia Curry School of Education released a new study today—Does Attendance in Private Schools Predict Student Outcomes at Age 15?—that found low-income children or children enrolled in urban schools did not benefit more from enrolling in private school between kindergarten and ninth grade.

“Despite the arguments in favor of the use of vouchers or other mechanisms to support enrollment in private schools, ostensibly as a way to help for vulnerable children and families access a quality education, this study finds no evidence that private schools, exclusive of family background or income, are more effective for promoting student success,” said Robert C. Pianta, dean of the Curry School of Education and co-author of the study.

Directed by a steering committee and supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the study tracked a sample of American children, from birth through age 15. This longitudinal study examined the extent to which enrollment in private schools between kindergarten and ninth grade was related to students’ academic, social, psychological, and attainment outcomes at age 15.

Children were followed from birth to 15 years with a common study protocol, including interview, home, school, and neighborhood observations that occurred on a yearly basis. Although children with a history of enrollment in private schools performed better overall, the advantages of private school education were not present when controlling for socio-demographic characteristics.  

This study contradicts the rationale behind U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ efforts to promote greater access to private schools, primarily through the administration’s earmark of more than $1 billion in the federal budget for private school vouchers and other school choice plans.

“The assumption that private schools are more effective in educating students and producing higher levels of achievement behavior is demonstrably ineffective and potentially harmful,” said Pianta. “In order to enable more low-income students to succeed and close achievement gaps, we must support comprehensive education reform of our public school system.”

This study was published in Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed publication of American Educational Research Association (AERA).


About Curry School of Education

The University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education located in Charlottesville, Va., is ranked America’s 16th best graduate schools of education. To its 2,300 undergraduate, graduate and professional students, the school offers nationally-ranked degree programs in education and health centered around human development. Through 3 research centers, nearly 20 labs, and dozens of individual projects, faculty and students at Curry conduct rigorous, practical research that supports both the quality of teaching, learning and clinical practices and the decision-making of district, state and national leaders.

Audrey Breen
University of Virginia