Useless studies obscure the problems of our education system

Useless studies obscure the problems of our education system

Every time you turn around a new study is being touted to support someone’s agenda. This is especially true when it comes to debates over education. A case in point: Star Parker notes that the National Education Association is touting a study they claim shows public-schools do better than private-school kids. This goes against conventional wisdom and supports the NEA’s criticism of school choice. But, as usual, you have to dig deeper.

Generally, studies show students in private schools outperforming students in public schools. However, in this research, statistical adjustment was made to account for differences in socioeconomic background.

The result: Whereas the raw data shows superior performance in private schools, much of that differential is eradicated after the statistical massaging. Public-school fourth-graders did better; however, the reading advantage at the eighth-grade level remained with the private-school kids.

Catch that? They adjusted for “socioeconomic background.” Parker explains why that skews the study to uselessness. First, “on average, private-school tuition is about half of what the average public school spends per student,” so even after accounting for differences in family backgrounds, public schools are spending more for not much better results.

Wasting time and money on studies

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1 comment
  • “Catch that? They adjusted for “socioeconomic background.”

    Smoke and mirrors for an agenda…

    A challenge for some students coming from/living in poor neighborhoods or family situations is the kind of support they get at home for their studies. One will find great students in both public and private schools and from both rich and poor neighborhoods. In such cases, one will find that the common thread is that there is a very supportive at home environment for the student.

    Now in some cases, there are families where the parents (probably more precisely, the parent) or guardian does not give a damn and offers no help with homework or such. For the student, the only supportive figure he or she may encounter during the day will be the teacher, but the teacher can do little once the student leaves school at the end of the day.

    In some previous volunteer work, I experienced family situations where the parents obviously care about their child’s studies, but given the parent’s poor English skills there is minimal help at home when the student needs it.

    I know there is a debate about whether immersion or bilingual methods work best (based on my observation, immersion makes the most sense), but in either case if the student does not have a parent at home who is capable in helping with homework and studies then that student will be at a disadvantage.

    Too bad for such students as education is the gateway for opportunity in our world.