Does Attendance in Private Schools Predict Student Outcomes at Age 15? Evidence from a Longitudinal Study

Published online in:
Educational Researcher
July 9, 2018

Robert C. Pianta, University of Virginia
Arya Ansari, University of Virginia


By tracking longitudinally a sample of American children (n = 1,097), this study examined the extent to which enrollment in private schools between kindergarten and ninth grade was related to students’ academic, social, psychological, and attainment outcomes at ag 15. Results from this investigation revealed that, in unadjusted models, children with a history of enrollment in private schools performed better on nearly all outcomes assessed in adolescence. However, by simply controlling for the socio-demographic characteristics that selected children and families into these schools, all of the advantages of private school education were eliminated. There was also no evidence to suggest that low-income children, or children enrolled in urban schools, benefited more from private school enrollment.