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Private Schools in the United States: A Statistical Profile, 1993-94 / Other Religious Conservative Christian Schools


Other Religious Conservative Christian Schools

Overview

The largest category of private schools other than Catholic schools consists of the conservative Christian schools. In 1993-94, the 4,664 conservative Christian schools represented nearly 40 percent of all non-Catholic religiously oriented schools in the United States, and one-fifth of all private schools in the nation, enrolling 641,828 students and employing the equivalent of 44,841 full-time teachers. Half of these schools were members of the Association of Christian Schools International. Religion is an especially important facet of these schools, as attested by the responses of principals, 80 percent of whom indicated that religious development was among the three most important educational goals of their school (table 4.2).

Conservative Christian schools are relative newcomers in America education history9 out of 10 currently operating were founded since the mid-1960s (table 1.3). Although they were located in all regions of the country in 1993-94, relatively more were in the South (38 percent) than in other regions.

Conservative Christian schools tend not to be large: only 10 percent of conservative Christian schools had enrollments of more than 300 students, compared to 20 percent of private schools overall; and more of these schools (66 percent) combined enrollments across both elementary and secondary grades in one school, compared to 31 percent in private schools overall. Nearly all conservative Christian schools were coeducational and served diverse student bodies, and fewer than 1 percent offered boarding services. Although the schools charged tuition, like other private schools, nearly all (96 percent) offered discounts, and their tuition was significantly lower than for private schools overall. Only 2 percent of elementary schools and only 8 percent of schools serving secondary-level students had annual tuition greater than $3,500 (table 1.5).

School Resources and Programs

Class sizes in conservative Christian schools also tended to be somewhat smaller than those in private schools in general. Only one-fifth of the conservative Christian schools had 25 or more students per class, and 34 percent had fewer than 15 students per class. Their average student/teacher ratio (14:1), however, was about the same as in private schools in general (table 1.7).

Many conservative Christian schools offered a range of special programs and services similar to the offerings of other private schools, but smaller proportions of students received Title I services and special education. Overall, 85 percent of these schools had libraries (table 1.7), in spite of the fact that 27 percent had fewer than 50 students.

Qualifications and Experience of Teachers and Principals

Many teachers in conservative Christian schools had fewer formal qualifications, such as degrees, certification, and experience, than private school teachers in general. About 14 percent of conservative Christian school teachers did not hold a bachelors degree, and 20 percent had fewer than 3 years of teaching experience. State certification played less of a role in their hiring than for private school teachers in general: 44 percent of conservative Christian school teachers did not hold a state teaching certificate. In line with differences in qualifications, conservative Christian school teachers also earned less, with over three-quarters receiving salaries of less than $20,000.

Similarly, principals in conservative Christian schools had lower education levels and fewer years of related experience than principals in private schools in general. Only 50 percent had a masters or doctoral degree, compared to 66 percent in private schools overall, and 23 percent had less than 10 years total teaching and principal experience, compared to 15 percent in private schools overall. Principals in conservative Christian schools were also paid less: about 74 percent received salaries of less than $30,000 per year, compared to 53 percent in all private schools.

On the other hand, more (54 percent) teachers in conservative Christian schools were satisfied with their salaries than were teachers in private schools overall (42 percent). Teachers in conservative Christian schools also expressed greater levels of satisfaction in terms of class size, staff cooperation, and career choice, but they generally felt that they had less control over choice of textbooks and class content than private school teachers overall did.

Expectations and School Climate

Conservative Christian schools took religious affiliation into account somewhat more than other private schools: 34 percent of elementary schools and 25 percent of other schools used it in admissions, compared to 15 percent of private schools in general. Among students at the schools, teachers perceived moderate and serious problems somewhat less frequently than in other private schools: only 5 percent saw physical conflicts among students and weapons as problems, compared to 10 percent in private schools overall; only 7 percent saw racial tension and poverty as problems, compared to 13 percent; and only 20 percent saw student apathy and lack of preparation as a problem, compared to 26 percent.

Academic requirements for graduation were similar to those in other private schools, 51 percent of secondary conservative Christian schools required a year or more of foreign language instruction for graduation. The rates of graduation and application to college among twelfth graders were 98 percent and 98 percent, respectively, in conservative Christian schools (table 4.5).


Other Religious-Affiliated School

Overview

Besides Catholic and conservative Christian schools, there are many other religiously oriented private schools in America, either affiliated or not with a national religious organization. In 1993-94, 3,437 other religiousaffiliated schools in the United States employed the equivalent of 42,839 full-time teachers to teach 580,666 students. These schools accounted for nearly 30 percent of all non-Catholic religious schools and 13 percent of all private schools in the nation. These schools are sponsored by various religions: in 1993-94, about one-quarter were Seventh-Day Adventist; 15 percent, Missouri Synod Lutheran; 10 percent, Episcopal; about 6 percent, Hebrew Day; 8 percent other Jewish; and the remainder, other religious groups (table 1.1). According to the principals of these schools, religious development is most frequently their most important education goal.

These religiousaffiliated schools were found in all regions of the country and were slightly more common in the Midwest and South (34 percent) than in other regions. There are many old and new schools in this category. Although 12 percent were founded prior to 1904, 63 percent of these schools were founded since the mid-1950s (table 1.3). Like private schools in general, other religious affiliated schools included elementary, secondary, and combined levels, and most had enrollments of fewer than 300 students. Almost all of them (94 percent) were coeducational and served diverse student bodies, but only 10 percent had minority student populations of 50 percent or more, as compared to 15 percent of private schools in general. In elementary schools, the average tuition, about $2,500, was slightly higher than that of private schools overall, but in combined K-12 schools, it was significantly lower ($3,000 versus $ 4,200) (table 1.5).

School Resources and Programs

Class sizes at the other religiousaffiliated schools were significantly smaller than in private schools as a group. About 40 percent of other religiousaffiliated schools had fewer than 15 students per class. The average student/teacher ratio was about 14:1 (table 1.7).

Other religiousaffiliated schools offered a range of special programs and services similar to the offerings of other private schools, but fewer elementary students received Title I services (1 percent) and special education (1 percent), and fewer secondary schools offered remedial reading (30 percent).

Qualifications and Experience of Teachers and Principals

The education level, related experience, and state certification rates of teachers in other religiousaffiliated schools were similar to those of private school teachers overall: 93 percent had at least a bachelors degree; over half had 10 or more years of teaching experience; and 65 percent had a state teaching certificate. In terms of salary, religiousaffiliated teachers had higher salaries than private school teachers in general. About 35 percent of the other religiousaffiliated school teachers earned less than $20,000, compared to 45 percent of private schools overall.

The principals in other religiousaffiliated schools also had education levels and related experience similar to those in other private schools. About 60 percent of the principals in other religiousaffiliated schools had masters or doctoral degrees, and 85 percent had 10 or more years of experience. Like their teachers, the principals in other religiousaffiliated schools received higher salaries: only 19 percent were paid less than $20,000, as compared to 31 percent in private schools overall.

In 1993-94, a higher proportion (50 percent) of teachers were satisfied with their salaries than in private schools in general (42 percent), and slightly more were satisfied with class size (88 percent versus 84 percent), but satisfaction with staff cooperation and with their career choice was about the same as for teachers in private schools overall. Teachers in other religiousaffiliated schools gave ratings of their control over school discipline (60 percent), school curriculum (59 percent), the choice of textbooks (66 percent), and class content (74 percent) that were similar to those given by private school teachers overall.

Expectations and School Climate

Other religiousaffiliated schools resembled other private schools in terms of student admissions. At the elementary level, more (about 21 percent) of other religious affiliated schools used recommendations (table 2.3). At the secondary level, only 7 percent used special needs for admission, compared to 20 percent of private schools in general; and 28 percent used religious affiliation, compared to only 14 percent in private schools overall.

Teachers perceptions of problems were generally similar to those of private school teachers in general; but only 10 percent considered poverty or racial tension to be moderate or serious problems in their schools, compared to 13 percent in private schools in general. In secondary schools, graduation requirements included at least 3 years of science in 50 percent of these schools and at least a year of foreign language instruction in 60 percent, about the same as in private schools overall. The rates of graduation and application to college among twelfth graders were 98 percent and 88 percent, respectively, in other religiousaffiliated schools (table 4.5).


Other Religious-Unaffiliated Schools

Overview

In 1993-94, 4,079 religiously oriented private schools were unaffiliated with any national-level religious organization. These schools employed the equivalent of 32,574 full-time teachers to teach 463,575 students. This diverse set of schools represents a third of all non-Catholic religious schools and a sixth of all private schools in the nation. According to their principals, religious development is their most important education goal.

Eighty percent of these schools were founded since the mid-1950s (table 1.3). Although located in all regions of the country, they were less common in the West (11 percent) than was typical of private schools (18 percent). One-third of the students attending these schools were in small town or rural settings, compared to one-sixth of private school students in general (table 2.2).

In 1993-94, unaffiliated schools were almost all (98%) coeducational and were typically smaller than other private schools: 43 percent had enrollments of fewer than 50 students, compared to a quarter of private schools overall. Half of them had no minority students, as compared to 20 percent of private schools in general. Although the average tuition of religiousunaffiliated schools with elementary and secondary levels only was similar to that of private schools overall, tuitions varied greatly among these schools. For schools with combined K-12 levels, average tuition was significantly lower ($2,400 versus $4,200) than among private schools in general (table 1.5).

School Resources and Programs

These unaffiliated schools had class sizes and student/teacher ratios similar to those in private schools in general. About a quarter of religiousunaffiliated schools had 25 or more students per class and 30 percent had fewer than 15 students per class. The average student/teacher ratio was about 14:1 (table 1.7).

Religiously oriented but unaffiliated schools offered a somewhat smaller range of special programs and services than in private schools overall. Fewer offered remedial reading services (34 percent overall), remedial math services (26 percent), special education services (13 percent), diagnostic services (22 percent), gifted student education services (14 percent), and after-school services (28 percent). Few students in these schools received Title I services (1 percent). Only 67 percent of religiousunaffiliated secondary schools had libraries, compared to 82 percent in private schools overall.

Qualifications and Experience of Teachers of Principals

Religiousunaffiliated schools reported that, on average, their teachers had fewer advanced degrees and were less frequently credentialed by the state, but similarly experienced, when compared to private school teachers overall. Seventeen percent of the religiousunaffiliated school teachers did not have a bachelors degree, compared to 7 percent of private school teachers overall, and roughly half of them did not hold a state teaching certificate. Their teaching experience was similar, with half of the teachers in religiousunaffiliated schools having 10 or more years of teaching experience. Over half earned less than $20,000, a significantly higher percentage than in private schools in general.

The principals in religiousunaffiliated schools generally had less education and fewer years of teaching and administrative experience than private school principals overall. About 29 percent of the principals in religiousunaffiliated schools did not have a bachelors degree, as compared to 8 percent in private schools generally. Their salaries were also less. About half were paid less than $20,000, as compared to 31 percent in all private schools, and only about 13 percent were paid $40,000 or more, as compared to 24 percent in all private schools.

Despite lower salaries, a higher proportion (55 percent) of teachers in religious unaffiliated schools were satisfied with their salaries than teachers at private schools in general were (42 percent). In terms of class size, staff cooperation, and career choice, the satisfaction rates for these two groups were about the same. Generally, about the same proportions of teachers in religious unaffiliated schools felt they had control over school discipline (64 percent), school curriculum (63 percent), the choice of textbooks (67 percent), and class content (76 percent) as did all private school teachers.

Expectations and School Climate

At the elementary level, religiousunaffiliated schools used fewer admission factors than private schools overall. Only about 13 percent used an admission test, 8 percent used an achievement test, and 17 percent used academic records, as compared to 22 percent, 16 percent, and 31 percent, respectively, for private schools overall (table 2.3). At schools serving secondary students (secondary or combined levels), admission factors were similar to those used in other private schools.

Teachers perceptions of problems were slightly less frequent than those of private school teachers in general: only 5 percent considered physical conflicts among students and weapons to be moderate or serious problems in their schools, compared to 10 percent in private schools in general, and only 8 percent of teachers in religiousunaffiliated schools considered poverty or racial tension to be moderate or serious problems in their schools, in comparison to 14 percent of private school teachers in general. Graduation rates for twelfth graders were 99 percent for students in religiousunaffiliated schools, and college application rates were 77 percent (table 4.5).



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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education