Quality education is an important factor to help a country develop economically, socially, and politically. The recent advancements in science and technology are a manifestation of how quality education can contribute to the development of the country. Some of the great innovators in technology developed the passion for science during their elementary schooling. Ultimately, the education system that they underwent played a crucial role in ensuring that they had a good foundation that challenged them to pursue their passion in higher education and developed the technological innovations witnessed around today. Several scholars have done a number of studies to determine how students are influenced by the kind of education system that they undergo while in elementary schools. This paper analyzes the findings of some quantitative research studies that relate to public and private education.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) study entitled “Comparing Private Schools and Public Schools Using Hierarchical Linear Modeling” done in 2003 was aimed at establishing the differences in mathematics and reading scores between private and public schools. The student characteristics the study considered included gender, disability status, race/ethnicity, and identification of studying English language. In addition, the study considered school characteristics like size and location, as well as the student body’ and the teaching staff’ composition. The study used a sample of more than 6,900 public schools and more than 530 private schools to assess grade 4 and 5,500 public schools and more than 550 private schools to assess grade 8 (Braun, Jenkins, Grigg, 2006).

As for 8th graders, the result indicated that, doing reading exercises, private school students scored 18.1 points higher than public school students on average, thus the value of an effect size was .58.  With mathematics, private school students scored 12.3 points higher than public school students on average, which corresponds to a .38 effect size” As for 4th graders on average, private school pupils scored 14.7 points higher at reading and 7.8 points higher at mathematics when compared to public schools’ sample group. The effect size was .41 and .29, correspondingly. (Braun, Jenkins, Grigg, 2006).

A deeper analysis of the findings of this study reveals that on average, private schools perform better than public schools. From this study, it is evident that private education provides students with advantage over their counterparts in public schools in subjects such as mathematics and reading. These subjects’ scores that define the future course that a student is likely to pursue in higher education.

National Center for Education Statistics: Are Public or Private Schools Doing Better?

According to the findings of this study, students who attended public education system performed better than in private education especially in 4th grade mathematics. The study also revealed that private school students outperformed their counterparts in 4th grade in reading. The graph shifted when the students reach the 8th grade with those in public schools performing better in reading and those in private schools performing better in mathematics. The study, however, concludes that, generally, students in private schools have an advantage over those in public schools when comparison is done across all the grades.

The study used data that were collected by a different organization and analyzed them to come up with the results. However, the results directly contrast the common trend in the research of public versus private school’s student performance. Several limitations in the selection of the data that were used in this study calls for cautious interpretation and application of the conclusions in this study. Even though the study presented a rational conclusion on public and private schools’ performance in education, a common sense and knowledge about endowment and resources that private schools receive and get to spend in their curriculum points to the fact that private schools would perform better than public schools.

Center on Education Policy: Public Schools versus Private Schools

This study evaluated the performance of various students from public and private schools. The results revealed that there is no difference between public and private education. The study, however, pointed out that perceived differences in public and private education are a result of demographic, rather than academic quality of those schools. A quantitative comparison of students with similar socio-economic status from private and public schools indicated similarities in achievements and reading, mathematics, sciences, and history subjects’ scores.

In addition, the study found that students were equally likely to attend elite colleges regardless of whether they had attended their elementary education in public or private schools. The study further indicated that young adults at age 26 equally reported satisfaction with their jobs irrespective of their former education. Finally, the study also revealed that these young adults participated in civic activities with the same commitment, thus, casting doubt as to whether public or private education played any role in transformation of the civic activities they performed.

The Approach and Validity of the Three Research Studies

The three studies use relevant data from the performance of students in private and public schools. The choice of reading, mathematics, sciences, and history is important, especially in finding the quantitative comparison between the performances of students from different types of schools with different approaches. The studies’ approaches are good given that they use reasonable samples and apply relevant models in analyzing the data. Similarly, the approach is good since it uses primary data that is collected from schools first-hand. The exception is the National Center for Education Statistics that uses secondary data that was collected by a different body and, therefore, whose credibility may be questioned together with the validity of results.

The results of the studies conform to those of other studies done in other countries and regions. It is evident that the endowment in management and resources in private schools will definitely give them an advantage over public schools. Therefore, the results of these studies are valid to the point that they can be recommended as a template for reforming the public education system. This would potentially help students from such schools perform better and join elite colleges that have been a preserve of the private schools students for some time.

Key Characteristics of the Sample Population Needed for Proposed Research

The proposed study will focus on the following key characteristics:

Gender

This is an important characteristic, especially in the performance of mathematics and science subjects. There is a widespread believe that male students do perform better in mathematics and sciences when compared to their female counterparts. The same can be said about reading, where girls perform better than boys. When comparing school performance, the study will ensure to include factors like the ratio of boys to girls in public and private schools. A discrepancy may arise in cases where, for instance, a private school has a higher number of girls than boys. Following the above theory, an adjustment will be required when comparing performance in subjects like mathematics and reading.

Race

Some private schools are sensitive to the issue of race to the extent that it might be a contributing factor to a student performance in a certain class. A good example is when students are discriminated against by other students in private schools, where 4th grade has a higher number of students of a different race from the rest of the school.  One can then anticipate that performance in that class will be lower compared to a single race class in public school, where there is no discrimination.

English Language Learner

This characteristic is important especially in private schools that have higher numbers of international students for whom English is not the first language. As such, a consideration of the characteristic will come in handy when comparing reading levels between public and private schools.

Size and Location of the School

Most private schools are located in urban areas. The sizes of such schools are suited for accommodating a given number of students. On the other hand, public schools tend to be located away from the urban center and have relatively large student list as compared to their size. Attention should also be paid to the number of students in the given school, because high numbers can affect the mean average of grades in the class.

Teaching Staff

This is important, especially where the teacher-student ratio is concerned. Public schools have a lower teacher-student ratio than private schools, and this may have implications on the overall performance of students in class.

Challenges that Might be Encountered with Access to the Sample Population

  1. Some schools might be unwilling to give access to their students’ performance data, especially where students have consistently performed poorly.
  2. Some schools are located in remote places, and the researcher might get exhausted travelling from one school to another.
  3. Seeking a permission to carry out studies in public and private schools will definitely require a long time, given the need to receive it from both education authorities school management.

Ways to Meet the Challenges

  1. The researcher shall guarantee confidentiality of the provided information to school administration that fears data disclosure. The researcher will therefore commit to keep the names of such schools confidential.
  2. The researcher will use enumerators from regions that are remotely located to assist with collecting data from those schools. This option may be costly, but it will be a tradeoff between taking longer time.

Advantages and Limitations of Using Surveys for Research

Advantages

  1. Ability to reach a larger sample size

Since this study will be using a wide range of data from a number of schools, reaching those schools and collecting the necessary data may pose a challenge to the researcher. However, with the use of surveys, the research will be able to obtain a large student sample within a shortest time and collect the necessary data for analysis.  Thus, surveys are important in drawing accurate data from a large sample.

  1. Honest Responses

Surveys are mostly trusted as tools for collecting anonymous responses that then translate to how honest the given data is. Unlike interviews, where the respondent might ponder on his response, surveys guarantee the respondent that nobody will know his or her identity. In addition, surveys will also be instrumental in addressing the problem of confidentiality that the researcher anticipated as a challenge.

Limitations

1.Sample Choice

The researcher will not be able to monitor the surveys’ respondents and the results will only depend on their honesty. Equally, the researcher will not be able to detect false responses. He will not be available to clarify the data that is given by the respondent, for instance, in data responses where all students in class scored 100% in mathematics.

2.Inflexible Design

Surveys are designed to collect general information from the respondent. The researcher cannot change the design of the survey to collect a certain kind of information that he might have suddenly realized is important to the results. As such, surveys are rigid and incapable of collecting afterthought pieces of information.

Ethical Issue

The issue of confidentiality of data and extra information gathered will be important, especially in private schools. The researcher will probably encounter a school where racial discrimination is rampant and some of the respondents are traumatized by this fact. The researcher will therefore be at the cross road whether to report the situation to the relevant authority or maintain the confidentiality pledge. Addressing the issue, the researcher will write a report to the concerned school about the unfair treatment that students of different races are exposed to. In the report, the researcher will outline to the management the importance of having an equal learning environment and potential consequences, should relevant authorities become aware.

A Survey Instrument

 Demographic Questions

  1. What is your gender?
  2. What year were you born in? 
  3. What is your race?
  4. When did you join this school?

Topic-Related Questions

  1. How do you rate the general performance of the students in the 4th grade mathematics class?

1 – Poor
2 – Fair
3 – Good
4 – Very good
5 – Excellent

  1. What is the average grade that 8th grade students have received in the last five tests?

Aà30-40

Bà40-50

Cà50-60

Dà60-70

Eà70-80

  1. Mathematics and science subjects are favorite subjects in this school.How can you rate the level of performance of an average student in this school?
    1. Strongly disagree
    2. Disagree
    3. Neither agree nor disagree
    4. Agree
    5. Strongly agree

1 – Poor
2 – Fair
3 – Good
4 – Very good
5 – Excellent

  1. 5.      What is the satisfaction level of parents with students’ performance in this school?

1 – Not at all satisfied
2 – Slightly satisfied
3 – Moderately satisfied
4 – Very satisfied
5 – Extremely satisfied

  1. How satisfied are you with the teacher-to-student ratio in this school?

1 – Not at all satisfied 

2 – Slightly satisfied 

3 – Moderately satisfied

4 – Very satisfied

5 – Extremely satisfied

Method of Administering the Survey, Interpreting, and Reporting the Data

The researcher will administer the survey through questionnaires distributed to students and teachers in public and private schools. The collected data will be interpreted through the analysis of the data collected, which will then be compared to the existing studies in the field. The researcher will submit the findings of the study to the public review by writing a report.

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