With all of the highly publicized failures of public schools, it is easy to assume that students in private schools are receiving a better education. But a study released by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) , Washington, United States found that students in public urban high schools perform, on average, just as well as those in private high schools.
Let us assume that private schools deliver a better education because so many of their graduates go on to elite colleges and successful careers, but according to the CEP, this may be due more to demographics than academic quality. When students' family backgrounds and income levels are taken into account, there is no effective difference in the quality of a public or private education. When the report was compared, they found that, students of similar socio-economic status at private and public high schools:
- Achieve scores on reading, math, science and history the same
- Students were equally likely to attend college whether they had graduated from a public or private school
- Young adults at age 26 were equally reported being satisfied with their jobs whether they had graduated from a public or private school
- They were likely to engage in any civic activity whether they had graduated from a public or private school.
There is, however, only one important area in which private school students do excel: SAT (Standardized Aptitude Test) scores. Students in private schools performed consistently better on the test than public school students, however, the study point outs that this does not imply that private schools are any better at teaching subject matter. They offer two possible explanations for this finding:
- Private schools are better at teaching test preparation.
- The admissions process at private schools tends to select students with higher IQ scores, and aptitude tests like the SAT are a better measure of IQ than subject achievement tests.
Regardless of the reason for the difference, the result is that graduates from private schools are somewhat more likely to get accepted into very elite colleges.