Recent analyses challenge common wisdom regarding the superiority of private schools relative to public schools, raising questions about the role of school processes and climate in shaping achievement in different types of schools. While holding demographic factors constant, this multilevel analysis of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics data on over 270,000 fourth and eighth graders in over 10,000 schools examines differences among schools on five critical factors: (1) school size, (2) class size, (3) school climate/parental involvement, (4) teacher certification, and (5) instructional practices. This study provides nationally representative evidence that both teacher certification and some reform-oriented mathematics teaching practices correlate positively with achievement and are more prevalent in public schools than in demographically similar private schools. Additionally, smaller class size, more prevalent in private schools, is significantly correlated with achievement.
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