Competition from private schools improves achievement and productivity in both public and private schools, according to an international study reported in Education Next. Martin R. West, a Brown education professor, and University of Munich economist Ludger Woessmann used data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).
West and Woessmann noted that a 10 percent increase in enrollment in private schools improves PISA math test scores by more than 9 percent of a standard deviation, nearly equal to a half of a year’s worth of learning. For science and reading, a 10 percent increase in private school enrollment generates an improvement of more than 5 percent of a standard deviation — more than one-fifth of a grade-level. And in educational spending, a 10 percent increase in the private school enrollment leads to a $3,209 reduction in spending per student — on average, more than 5 percent of the total education spending per student through age 15 for OECD countries.
Three-quarters of Dutch 15-year-olds and a majority of teens in Belgium, Ireland, and Korea attend private schools, compared to 6 percent of U.S. 15-year-olds sampled by PISA.
American students ranked 24th among the 29 OECD countries included in this study in mathematics, performing almost three-quarters of a grade level behind the OECD mean and almost three grade levels behind the three highest performing countries: Finland, Korea, and the Netherlands.
U.S. science and reading scores also were below the OECD average.
Both Obama and McCain came out for competition in education in the final debate, Jay Greene points out.