A new study examining literature linking private and charter schooling to perceptions of student safety, while acknowledging that more research is needed, suggests that private and public charter schools generally are associated with higher levels of safety as reported by students, parents and principals.
Researchers at EdChoice reviewed dozens of studies, narrowing their focus to high-quality research based on education in the United States published in academic journals and working papers. These criteria winnowed the landscape to eight studies on charter school safety and 11 on private school safety.
· The eight studies on charter schools found that charter school safety outcomes are null to positive.
· Each of the 11 studies on private schools found that access to private schooling is associated with improvements in safety as reported by students, parents and school leaders.
· None of the studies concluded that access to public charter schools or private schools was associated with reductions in reports of school safety overall.
“These positive safety results suggest that increasing access to public charter schools and private schools can increase safety for students,” the EdChoice researchers concluded.
Seven of the eight charter school studies indicate people perceive charter schools to be safer than district schools. One study found no difference in perceived school safety between the two sectors. Charter school stakeholders reported fewer assaults, physical injuries, weapon offenses, false alarms and sex offenses compared to district schools. Additionally, the studies indicate charter schools are far less likely to use metal detectors and more likely to enforce a dress code or require school uniforms.
Of the 11 private school studies, six focused exclusively on private schools participating in school choice scholarship programs. Mirroring the charter school results, private school students and parents perceived their school to be safer than their district school. One of the studies reviewed surveyed 16,000 students and found “private school students in particular reported a more positive school climate and less bullying” than their peers who enrolled in district schools.
In another report, this one surveying 10,000 students, findings revealed that “private schools are best at minimizing disruptions within the classroom, as well as fostering a nonhostile and safe school environment.”
The researchers classified a particular study as “positive” if the majority of the statistically significant safety results were in favor of private or charter schools, “negative” if the majority of the statistically significant safety results were in favor of district-run public schools, and “null” if there was no statistically significant differences between sectors overall.