A Book that is Making News. A book that hit the market last fall is stirring up a lot of discussion. The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools by husband and wife team Drs. Christopher and Sarah Theule Lubienski is a comparative statistical analysis of academic performance at traditional public schools, charter schools, and private schools. The book also contains discussion of existing voucher programs.
What the research underpinning the book shows is that while raw numbers show that private school students score better on standardized tests, when controls for demographic differences are taken into account, public schools actually outperform private schools. Needless to say, the results have caused a bit of a firestorm in the education reform community, especially from those quarters that stress greater reliance on market-driven reform.
Here is a link to the book, published by the University of Chicago Press, along with two reviews, one positive and one negative.
Positive Review: http://www.oregonlive.com/books/index.ssf/2014/02/the_public_school_advantage_th.html
Negative Review: http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/yes-private-schools-beat-public-schools
Interview with the Lubienski's from The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/are-private-schools-worth-it/280693/
This book is going to be on my summer reading list, so I can't give you my own review, but the negative review from National Review (online) by Jason Bedrick hits my main nerve in the discussion of school performance and that is the use of the term "efficiency" and how private schools are more "efficient" in delivering education and having students reach educational outcomes. It is difficult to paint with a broad brush here. There may be private schools that are more efficient and private schools that are less efficient than public schools, but is efficiency the primary goal of the education system? I highly doubt that exclusive private schools compare favorably in terms of efficiency. They charge outlandish tuition and use that tuition to keep class sizes extremely low.
I'll let you know my opinion after I finish reading the book.