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School Choice and Student Performance: Are Private Schools Really Better?

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  • D. N. Figlio
  • J. A. Stone

Abstract

Are private schools really better than public schools, or is it simply that better students attend private schools? Although a number of recent studies find that students perform better in private schools (more specifically, Catholic schools), others do not. Typically, however, the instruments used to adjust for nonrandom selection are weak. This study employs uniquely detailed local instruments and jointly models selection into religious and nonreligious private high schools, relative to public high schools—improving instrument power in predicting private sector attendance to roughly three times that of prior studies. Failing to correct adequately for selection leads to a systematic upward bias in the estimated treatment effect for religious schools, but a downward bias for nonreligious private schools. With adequate correction, religious schools are modestly inferior in mathematics and science, while nonreligious schools are substantially superior. However, minority students, particularly in urban areas, benefit from religious schools. Other factors that may make both religious and nonreligious private schools attractive include possibly better retention rates, increased security and discipline, and greater opportunities for a variety of specialized school-day and extracurricular activities.

Suggested Citation

  • D. N. Figlio & J. A. Stone, "undated". "School Choice and Student Performance: Are Private Schools Really Better?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1141-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:wispod:1141-97
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    File URL: http://www.irp.wisc.edu/publications/dps/pdfs/dp114197.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Brunello, Giorgio & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2004. "Diploma No Problem: Can Private Schools Be of Lower Quality than Public Schools?," IZA Discussion Papers 1336, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Mancebón-Torrubia, María-Jesús & Calero, Jorge & Choi, Álvaro & Ximénez-de-Embún, Domingo P., 2010. "Efficiency of public and publicly-subsidised high schools in Spain. Evidence from PISA 2006," MPRA Paper 21165, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Goldhaber, Dan D. & Brewer, Dominic J. & Eide, Eric R. & Rees, Daniel I., 1999. "Testing for sample selection in the Milwaukee school choice experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 259-267, April.
    4. William Duncombe & John Yinger, 2001. "Does School Consolidation Cut Costs?," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 33, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    5. Giorgio Brunello & Lorenzo Rocco, 2008. "Educational Standards in Private and Public Schools," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(533), pages 1866-1887, November.
    6. Ragnvid, Beatrice Schindler, 2003. "Evaluating Private School Quality in Denmark," Working Papers 03-2, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
    7. Mancebón-Torrubia, María Jesús & Ximénez-de-Embún, Domingo Pérez, 2009. "Spanish publicly-subsidised private schools and equality of school choice," MPRA Paper 21164, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Patrick Bayer & Robert McMillan, 2005. "Choice and Competition in Local Education Markets," NBER Working Papers 11802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Aksoy, Tevfik & Link, Charles R., 2000. "A panel analysis of student mathematics achievement in the US in the 1990s: does increasing the amount of time in learning activities affect math achievement?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 261-277, June.
    10. Thomas J. Nechyba, 2000. "Mobility, Targeting, and Private-School Vouchers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 130-146, March.
    11. repec:pal:jorsoc:v:59:y:2008:i:7:d:10.1057_palgrave.jors.2602427 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Gilpin, Gregory A., 2011. "Reevaluating the effect of non-teaching wages on teacher attrition," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 598-616, August.
    13. María Jesús Mancebón-Torrubia & Domingo Pérez Ximénez-de-Embún, 2014. "Equality of school choice: a study applied to the Spanish region of Aragón," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(1), pages 90-111, February.
    14. Bedi, Arjun S. & Garg, Ashish, 2000. "The effectiveness of private versus public schools: the case of Indonesia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 463-494, April.
    15. Luengo-Prado, Maria Jose & Volij, Oscar, 2003. "Public education, communities and vouchers," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 51-73.
    16. Thomas J. Nechyba, 1999. "A Model of Multiple Districts and Private Schools: The Role of Mobility, Targeting, and Private School Vouchers," NBER Working Papers 7239, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Green, Colin P. & Navarro-Paniagua, María & Ximénez-de-Embún, Domingo P. & Mancebón, María-Jesús, 2014. "School choice and student wellbeing," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 139-150.
    18. William Sander, 2000. "Parochial Schools and Student Achievement: Findings for Older Adults," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(3), pages 259-268.
    19. MANCEBÓN TORRUBIA, María Jesús & PÉREZ XIMÉNEZ-DE-EMBÚN, Domingo, 2010. "Una Valoracion Del Grado De Segregación Socioeconómica Existente En El Sistema Educativo Español. Un Analisis Por Comunidades Autonómas A Partir De Pisa 2006," Regional and Sectoral Economic Studies, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 10(3).
    20. Lonnie Stevans & David Sessions, 2000. "Private/Public School Choice and Student Performance Revisited," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(2), pages 169-184.

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