••• Education •••

Private schools continue to outperform public schools on state assessments

Once again, low-income students in Kansas private schools outperform their public school counterparts on state assessments, this time from the 2021 state assessment results. KPI has shown here and here that economically disadvantaged students in private schools do better on the state tests than their public-school counterparts. That trend continues, as shown in Table 1. A smaller percentage of low-income private school students, in both ELA (reading) and math scored below grade level, while a higher percentage of those same students tested college/career ready in both subjects. . Keep in mind, this is an APPLES-TO-APPLES comparison. While not perfect, this analysis clearly shows that private schools outperform public schools on the same populations of kids. This isn’t about private schools “picking” their students. It’s about those kids outperforming their peers in public schools.

Looking at the overall school performance, regardless of student income level, the outcome is the same: “like” students experience higher achievement in private schools than public schools. The overall comparison between public and private schools is shown in Table 2.

It should be noted that this is a buildings to buildings analysis since KSDE doesn’t provide assessment data separately by public and private students as subgroups as is available by gender or ethnicity, among many others. Comparing the size of the numerical discrepancies is thus limited, but analyzing by building – or by even by district as KPI has done in the past – provides a clear picture that private schools outperform public schools on state assessments, regardless of income level.

Table 3 is a ranking of the top 25 individual schools’ overall performance – all students. Kudos to Ingalls Elementary (USD 477), which is the overall top ranked school in the state. St. Joseph Elementary in Conway Springs (Wichita Catholic Diocese) is second. More than half of the top 25 are private schools, despite the fact that only 121 of the state’s 1,375 tested schools are private.

Another year of state assessments, another year of evidence that private schools outperform public schools, and another year that most Kansas students continue to be stuck in underperforming schools. When will something be done to increase parental choice in the education of their children? Despite self-serving fervent opposition from educrats, Kansas students and families deserve the Legislature to pass HB 2550 a law that would allow low-income students to take part of state education funding to a private school that provides better educational opportunities. The ground for providing money directly to parents was laid last month by the Governor Kelly-led State Finance Council, which approved $50 million in learning recovery grants. These grants will provide $1,000 per student directly to families (low-income) to spend on a variety of educational-related goods and services.

How can those in power look at these results and think that nothing needs to change? The families, students and taxpayers of Kansas deserve better.