Public school kindergarteners post same or greater gains as private school counterparts

In the first study to examine differences in learning gains at the kindergarten level, William Carbonaro (University of Notre Dame) finds that publicly schooled kindergarteners post the same or greater learning gains than privately schooled kindergarteners. These findings come as a surprise because, as Carbonaro writes in the November issue of the American Journal of Education, “Both the financial costs of private schooling and other self-selection factors ensure that the private schools will have a more advantaged population of students than public schools.”

Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Carbonaro points out that gains at higher academic levels are greater among privately schooled students. “On the one hand, it is reassuring that public kindergartens do as well or slightly better than private kindergartens in producing learning gains,” Carbonaro writes.

“On the other hand, this remains something of a hollow victory because private school students still have substantially higher test scores at the end of kindergarten than public school students.”

Carbonaro suggests that public schools may want to seriously consider instituting all-day kindergarten to catch up to private school achievement levels, as this would provide more learning opportunities without reducing the amount of time spent in school on nonacademic material.

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Founded as School Review in 1893, the American Journal of Education bridges and integrates the intellectual, methodological, and substantive diversity of educational scholarship, while encouraging a vigorous dialogue between educational scholars and practitioners.

William Carbonaro, “Public-Private Differenes in Achievement Among Kindergarten Students: Differences in Learning Opportunities and Student Outcomes.” American Journal of Education: November 2006.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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