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111. Charter, Private, Public Schools and Academic Achievement: New Evidence from NAEP Mathematics Data. 2006.
Author: Chris Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski

<publication forthcoming in the winter issue of American Education Research Journal>
Common wisdom holds that private schools achieve better academic results than public schools.  Assumptions of the superiority of private-style organizational models are reflected in voucher and charter programs, and in the choice provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.  However, most studies that compare achievement between private and public school students either fail to account for differences in student background characteristics or are based on assessments of students who have since graduated from high school.  This analysis compares student achievement in traditional public, private, and charter schools on the 2003 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) mathematics exam.  Hierarchical linear modeling is used to control for demographic characteristics and school location.  Findings reveal that demographic differences between students in public and private schools account for the relatively high raw scores of private schools on the NAEP.  Indeed, after controlling for these differences, public school students generally score better than their private school peers.   Three other findings warrant mention.  First, Lutheran schools are the highest performing private schools.  Second, Conservative Christian schools, the fastest growing private school sector, are the lowest performing private schools.  Third, fourth graders in charter schools scored below public school students, but eighth graders in charter schools scored above public school students.  This suggests that assessments of charter schools must pay careful attention to the sample population that is being examined.


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