School sector and academic achievement: A multilevel analysis of NAEP mathematics data

Sarah Theule Lubienski, Christopher Lubienski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using data from the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress, this analysis compared mathematics achievement in public, charter, and major types of private schools to examine whether disparities in achievement are due to differences in school performance or student demographics in various sectors. Hierarchical linear models were used to control for student- and school-level demographic characteristics. The analysis indicated that the relatively high raw scores of private schools were more than accounted for by student demographics. In fact, after demographic differences had been controlled, the private school advantage disappeared and even reversed in most cases. These findings raise questions about the basis of reform models that seek remedies in parental choice, autonomy, competition, and other attributes associated with the private school sector.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-698
Number of pages48
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Charter schools
  • Hierarchical linear modeling
  • Mathematics achievement
  • NAEP
  • NCLB
  • Private schools
  • Public choice theory
  • Public schools
  • School choice
  • Vouchers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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