Toronto Campus
21 Eddfield Avenue
Toronto, ON, M2N 2M5
(416) 250-0648

Richmond Hill Campus
11 Headdon Gate
Richmond Hill, ON, L4C 9W9
(905) 780-6565

Do private schools provide a better education than public schools?

A lot of Canadians seem to think like that. In a 2018 survey, two-thirds of Canadian parents said they would take their children out of the state system and send them to a private school if they can afford it. Education experts seem to concurrently agree to that opinion.

The study suggests vouchers for private schools are unnecessary because — once you control for socioeconomic status — students at private schools are performing better than those at public schools. The study says that it is “the kinds of economic and resource advantages their parents can give [students]” — as well as the level of parental involvement in their kids’ education —that determines success or failure in high school.


Also, it’s true that controlling for socioeconomic status eliminates most of the public-school/private-school differences in achievement-test scores in math, reading, science, and history.

As was explained more fully here, developed abilities are those nurtured through schoolwork, reading, engaging a piece of art, and any other activities that spark critical thinking. Developed abilities aren’t inborn traits but honed competencies, more like to athletic skill gained through sports practice rather than raw IQ. By contrast, achievement tests measure the number of material students has committed to memory in any particular field.

Combined with high-school grades, test scores are the best predictor of how kids will do in their freshman year of college. And the data in the new study shows that private-school students outperform public-school students on the final tests.

Isn’t that just because richer private-school kids can afford to be coached more before the tests? No — remember that this study carefully controlled for socioeconomic status. Rather, it appears private schools do more to develop students’ critical-thinking abilities — not just the rote memorization required to do well on achievement tests.

Another factor is that it is true that children who attend private schools generally have better academic outcomes than those in public schools. A look at the ranking of Ontario elementary schools shows a disproportionate number of the top ranking schools are indeed private ones. Whereas only about 6 % of Canadian children attend private schools, over a third of the top scoring schools on the Fraser rankings are private, like a Private Prestige School in North York and Richmond Hill . It is also the case that Canadian children in private schools tend to score higher on tests like the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), as well as have higher educational credentials as adults. In a brief, today’s study shows that sending your kid to private school — is still a better way to ensure that he or she will get into college.

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