More than 5 million American students—or about 10 percent of the entire school population—attended private schools during the 2001–2002 school year. To better understand the performance of students in private schools, NAEP performed two studies and has released a two part series of reports.
In the first report, Student Achievement in Private Schools, results of the 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2005 assessments for all private schools and for the largest private school categories—Catholic, Lutheran, and Conservative Christian—are compared with those for public schools (when applicable). This first report focuses on important demographic differences between students nationwide in private and public schools. To explore the results of the study, download a copy of the full report.
The goal of the second report, Comparing Private Schools and Public Schools Using Hierarchical Linear Modeling, was to examine differences in mean NAEP reading and mathematics scores in 2003 between public and private schools when selected characteristics of students and/or schools were taken into account. Among the student characteristics considered were gender, race/ethnicity, disability status, and identification as an English language learner. Among the school characteristics considered were school size, location, and composition of the student body and teaching staff. In particular, if the student populations enrolled in the two types of schools differed systematically with respect to background characteristics related to achievement, then those differences would be confounded with straightforward comparisons between school types. Hierarchical linear models (HLMs) were employed to carry out the desired adjustments. To learn more about the HLM methodology and read the results of the report, download a copy of the full report.
To explore data regarding private school performance, use the NAEP Data Explorer. Select a grade level, a subject, and "national" as the jurisdiction. Then, select the option to view data by type of school, or search the list of variables for data related to private schools.
To learn more about private school participation in NAEP assessments, see Nonpublic (Private) Schools and the Nation's Report Card.
Read the executive summary of the HLM report or download a copy of Comparing Private Schools and Public Schools Using Hierarchical Linear Modeling.
Read more about private school participation.