For many school choice supporters, enrollment growth across many sectors is reason to cheer. But new research may give policymakers pause about whether they’re pursuing the options that result in the best academic outcomes.
William Jeynes, a professor at California State University, Long Beach, and a senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, found students in religious schools were, on average, a full year ahead of their peers in traditional public and charter schools. After controlling for parental involvement, income, race and gender, the students were, on average, seven months ahead.
The findings, recently published in the Peabody Journal of Education, were based on a first-of-its-kind meta-analysis of 90 studies that compared academic performance across the three sectors. Jeynes also found:
- Even wider gaps between black and Hispanic students in religious schools and their public school counterparts.
- Smaller racial achievement gaps in religious schools.
- Fewer behavior problems among students in religious schools.
- Little difference in academic performance or behavior issues between students in traditional public schools and students in charter schools.
The implications for school choice, he said, are obvious.