A new study commissioned by the US Department of Education says that students in public schools perform pretty much the same as those in private schools.
As you might expect, the DOE secretary had nothing to say about the results and the president of the NEA had plenty, both right and wrong.
He was correct in noting that if the study showed private schools with an advantage “there would have been press conferences and glowing statements about private schools”.
And quite wrong in declaring that public schools are “doing an outstanding job”.
The reality, however, is that narrow comparisons like this (4th and 8th grade reading and math) don’t have much value. Even the researchers noted many limitations to the study, calling it “of modest utility”.
But beyond the fact that this new report, like similar ones with similar results, are capturing a narrow snapshot of a small number of students in one fixed point of their learning, educational researchers have a much bigger problem.
They are studying an educational structure that is completely out of date. One designed to train students for life in American 50 years ago not for 2010 and beyond.