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


Let’s compare private and government schools

There are a lot of studies 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 kid’s education —that determines success or failure in high school. A lot of education experts seem to concur on most of that opinion.

It’s true that controlling for socioeconomic status (SES) eliminates most of the public-school/private-school differences in achievement-test scores in math, reading, science, and history. Even after you control for SES, Catholic schools run by holy orders (not those overseen by the local bishop) turned out to perform better than other schools studied. True, as the study says, there are only a small number of religious-order schools. But different data suggest that the type of school a kid attends does affect how well he will do — and that we could learn something from how holy orders run their schools. The Center on Education Policy, however, is an advocacy group for public schools, so it didn’t look into why holy-order schools are succeeding where others fail.

The center also downplays another finding: While controlling for SES eliminated most public school/private-school differences in achievement test scores, it did not eliminate differences in the most widely used test of developed abilities, the SAT. (As I 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 akin to athletic skill gained through 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, SAT 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 SAT.

Isn’t that just because richer private-school kids can afford to be coached more before the SAT? 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.

The main 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 percent of Canadian children attend private schools, over a third of the top scoring schools on the Fraser rankings are private. For example, one of the best Toronto Prestige Private School shows a stable high level of their students on the SAT. { Link: http://www.prestigeprivateschool.ca/}
It is also the case that Canadian children in private schools tend to score higher on tests like the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), as well as have higher educational credentials as adults.
In short, 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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