Private Schools in the United States: A Statistical Profile, 1993-94 / Nonsectarian Regular Schools
In addition to religiously oriented private schools, the United States has many nonsectarian private elementary and secondary schools. In the Schools and Staffing Survey, these nonsectarian schools were divided into three categories: regular, special emphasis (e.g., Montessori), or special education. In 1993-94, 2,484 non-sectarian regular schools in the United States served 539,785 students and employed 55,330 teachers. Nonsectarian regular schools represented nearly half of all nonsectarian schools and one-tenth of all private schools in the nation. For these schools, academic excellence was the most important education goal, as reported by their principals (tables 4.1 and 4.2).
Among private schools, most nonsectarian schools are relatively young. Although 8 percent were founded before 1904, about three-quarters of them date back only to the mid-1950s, and about 40 percent were established in the past 20 years (table 1.3). In 1993-94, nonsectarian regular schools were located in all regions of the country, but were more heavily concentrated in the South (39 percent) than other private schools were.
Nonsectarian regular schools included separate elementary and secondary schools and schools that combined grade levels, and nearly all were coeducational. They were similar in size to private schools in general: less than one-quarter had enrollments of more than 300 students. Student populations in 75 percent of these schools included minority students, although only 9 percent had 50 percent or more minorities. The tuition rates in nonsectarian regular schools were significantly higher than in private schools overall across all grade levels ($3,500 versus $2,100 for elementary level, $10,200 versus $5,500 for secondary level, and $5,200 versus $4,200 for schools combining both levels) (table 1.5).
Class sizes in nonsectarian regular schools tended to be somewhat smaller than in private schools in general: only one-quarter of nonsectarian regular schools had 25 or more students per class, and 35 percent had fewer than 15 students per class. Similarly, the average student/teacher ratio for nonsectarian regular schools was 10:1, compared to 15:1 for private schools in general (table 1.7).
The special programs and services offerings were similar to those in other private schools; however, fewer students in nonsectarian regular schools received some of the services. Fewer students received Title I (less than 1 percent), bilingual (nearly none), and special education (less than 1 percent) than students in private schools overall. On the other hand, nonsectarian regular schools offered services and set requirements to promote their goal of academic excellence: 68 percent of schools serving secondary students required more than 1 year of foreign language education for graduation (compared to 58 percent for private schools in general). About three-quarters of nonsectarian regular schools had libraries, as did other private schools (table 1.10).
Teachers in nonsectarian regular schools were somewhat more highly educated, less likely to be state-certified, and better paid than private school teachers in general. More teachers in nonsectarian regular schools had received advanced degrees: three in seven held masters or doctoral degrees. Their teaching experience (59 percent had more than 10 years experience) was similar to that of private school teachers overall. Over one-third (38 percent) of teachers in nonsectarian regular schools did not hold state teaching certificates, compared to 29 percent of private school teachers overall. Thirteen percent of them earned $40,000 or more per year, compared to 5 percent of private school teachers over-all; and only 31 percent received less than $20,000, compared to 45 percent of private school teachers overall.
The principals in nonsectarian regular schools were similar to private school principals in general in terms of education level and related experience. However, they, like their teachers, were paid more: about 52 percent of the principals were paid $40,000 or more, compared to only 24 percent in all private schools, and only about 15 percent of them were paid less than $20,000, compared to 31 percent in all private schools.
More teachers (90 percent) in nonsectarian regular schools were satisfied with their class sizes than were teachers at private schools in general, but, like teachers at other private schools, half were not satisfied with their salaries. In general, these teachers felt they had more control over school curriculum, the choice of textbooks, and class content than private school teachers overall did.
Nonsectarian regular schools relied more heavily on academic records for admission than did other schools43 percent at elementary schools and 58 percent at schools serving secondary students. On the other hand, none used religious affiliation information in admissions (table 2.3a and 2.3b). Teachers perceptions of problems in nonsectarian regular schools were like those of private school teachers in general. One difference was that only half as many (7 percent) teachers in nonsectarian regular schools considered poverty or racial tension to be moderate or serious problems in their schools, compared to private school teachers in general. Among twelfth graders at these schools, graduation and college application rates were high (98 percent and 90 percent, respectively) (table 4.5).
Special emphasis schools are based on a particular philosophy or program, although most were not religiously affiliated in 1993-94. Two-fifths of the schools in this category were members of the American Montessori Society or other Montessori associations. To their principals, promoting personal growth and self-esteem were most frequently the schools most important education goals (table 4.1 ). Nonsectarian special emphasis schools numbered 1,788 in 1993-94, 32 percent of all nonsectarian schools and 7 percent of all private schools in the nation. They employed 14,548 full-time equivalent teachers to teach 141,929 students at sites all over the United States, but with more prevalence in the West (32 percent) than private schools in general (18 percent).
Almost all of the nonsectarian schools with special emphasis (97 percent) were established after the mid-1950s (table 1.3). Like private schools in general, they included elementary, secondary, and combined levels in 1993-94. Their sizes were somewhat smaller: for example, only 6 percent had enrollments of more than 300 students, and 53 percent had fewer than 50 students.
Nearly all nonsectarian schools with special emphasis were coeducational, and they served a more diverse student population than private schools in general. Three-quarters of these schools had at least 10 percent minority students each. The average tuition in special emphasis schools was significantly higher ($4,900 versus $3,000 for private schools overall) (table 1.5).
Like private schools in general, nonsectarian special emphasis schools had small class sizes: only one-quarter had 25 or more students per class and 32 percent had fewer than 15 students per class. Their average student/teacher ratio was 10:1, significantly smaller than the 15:1 for private schools in general (table 1.7).
Nonsectarian schools with special emphasis had about the same range of special programs and services as other private schools, but the percentage of students receiving those services varied. About 30 percent of the students in nonsectarian special emphasis schools received extended day care services, compared to only 10 percent in private schools overall; virtually none received Title I services, compared to about 4 percent in private schools overall.
Teachers in nonsectarian schools with special emphasis had education levels, certification rates, and experience similar to those of private school teachers in general. About 90 percent of teachers in these schools held at least a bachelors degree; three-quarters had at least 10 years teaching experience; and 66 percent held state certifications. Their salaries were about the same as those of teachers in other schools, except that only 34 percent, compared to 45 percent, earned less than $20,000 per year.
Principals qualifications, in terms of education level, related experience, and salaries, were also similar to those in private schools in general About one-third of the principals of nonsectarian special emphasis schools were paid over $40,000, and 20 percent were paid less than $20,000.
Teachers in nonsectarian schools with special emphasis schools differed from the private school teachers in general in feeling that they had more control over the choice of textbooks for their classrooms than private school teachers did overall.
Special emphasis schools used relatively few admission requirements: about 8 percent used an admissions test, compared to 22 percent of private schools overall; about 7 percent used an achievement test, compared to 16 percent of private schools overall; and about 12 percent used academic records, compared to 31 percent of private schools overall (table 2.3a and 2.3b). At the secondary and combined levels, 4 percent of the nonsectarian schools with special emphasis used an achievement test, compared to 22 percent of private schools in general; and only about a quarter of them used academic records, compared to 40 percent of private schools overall.
Teachers perceived few moderate to serious problems in their schools, although more, 21 percent, perceived that physical conflicts among students or weapons were problems. At the special emphasis schools with twelfth graders, students graduation rates were 92 percent, and college applications were 82 percent (table 4.5).
Private nonsectarian special education schools, which mainly serve students with disabilities, are a reflection of the growing national commitment to meet the educational needs of all American children. Promoting students personal growth and self-esteem are the most important education goals for special education schools, according to their principals (table 4.1).
Most of these schools (83 percent) were founded since the mid-1950s (table 1.3 ). In 1993-94, they numbered 1,290, about one-fourth (23 percent) of all non-sectarian schools and 5 percent of all private schools in the United States. Special education schools served 86,738 students and employed 14,264 full-time equivalent teachers in 1993-94. Although located all over the nation, special education schools were more prevalent in the Northeast (42 percent) and less prevalent in the Midwest (8 percent) than private schools in general.
Most of the schools (84 percent) served a combination of elementary and secondary students, although 69 percent had ungraded classrooms. These schools are typically small: over half had enrollments of fewer than 50 students, compared to fewer than a quarter of private schools overall.
Nearly all nonsectarian special education schools (94 percent) were coeducational and served diverse student bodies. In 80 percent of the schools, more than 10 percent of the students were members of minority groups; in 17 percent of the schools, 50 percent or more were. Virtually all nonsectarian special education schools charged tuition, and their average tuition was significantly higher than in other private schools ($14,700 versus $3,100) (table 1.5). The higher tuition can be attributed, at least in part, to the costs associated with meeting the unique needs of their students (e.g., for special equipment, elevators, personal aides).
As would be expected in schools serving students with disabilities, special education schools had small class sizes and low student/teacher ratios. Nearly 80 percent had fewer than 15 students per class, as compared to 26 percent in private schools overall. The average student/teacher ratio for nonsectarian special education schools was 6:1, compared to 15:1 for private schools in general (table 1.7 ).
Special education schools offered a range of special programs and services to meet the educational needs of their students. In special education secondary and combined level schools, 68 percent offered remedial reading, compared to 46 percent in private schools overall; 72 percent offered diagnostic services, and all offered special education services. The percentage of students receiving those services was 96 percent. About 20 percent of the special education schools had boarding services, four times as many as private schools overall (table 1.11). Few required 3 or more years of science courses (34 percent), and only 29 percent required a year or more of foreign language instruction for graduation.
Teachers in special education schools tended to be more highly educated and state-certified than other private school teachers. In 1993-94, nearly all of them had bachelors or postgraduate degrees, and 85 percent held state certifications, significantly more than teachers in private schools overall. Special education school teachers were somewhat less experienced on average, with only 41 percent having taught for 10 years or more. Special education teachers tended to be better paid than other private school teachers: 80 percent were paid more than $20,000, compared to 50 percent of private school teachers in general.
Among principals in nonsectarian special education schools, like teachers, education level was somewhat higher and related experience somewhat lower than those of principals in private schools in general: 88 percent had postgraduate degrees, but only 26 percent had 20 or more years teaching or administrative experience. They too were paid more: almost 70 percent earned $40,000 or more, compared to a quarter of private school principals overall.
Teachers in special education schools, like those in private schools in general, were generally satisfied with their class sizes, staff cooperation, and career choice; but, despite higher rates of pay, they were generally dissatisfied with salaries. Only one-third expressed satisfaction with their salaries. Regarding their views about their influence on school policy and control over classroom practice, they felt that they exerted influence on textbooks and class content (81 and 80 percent, respectively) but considerably less influence on school discipline and school curriculum (55 and 54 percent, respectively).
As might be expected, three-quarters of the special education schools used special need as an admission requirement, compared to only 20 percent in private schools overall (table 2.3). In five problem areas, teachers in special education schools gave significantly more ratings of moderate or serious than other private school teachers did: attendance (rated as moderate or serious by 40 percent of the special education teachers), robbery (36 percent), physical conflicts (53 percent), apathy (67 percent), and poverty (58 percent). In comparison to students in other private schools, only 81 percent of the twelfth grade students in special education schools graduated and 40 percent applied to college, significantly lower than for students in private schools overall.