Munich Personal RePEc Archive

School Achievement of Pupils From the Lower Strata in Public, Private Government-Dependent and Private Government-Independent Schools: A cross-national test of the Coleman-Hoffer thesis

Corten, Rense and Dronkers, J. (2005): School Achievement of Pupils From the Lower Strata in Public, Private Government-Dependent and Private Government-Independent Schools: A cross-national test of the Coleman-Hoffer thesis. Published in: Educational Research and Evaluation , Vol. 12, No. 2 (2006): pp. 179-208.

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Abstract

We consider the question whether pupils from the lower social strata perform better in private government-dependent schools than in public or private-independent schools, using the PISA 2000 data on European high schools. In the eighty’s, Coleman and Hoffer (1987) found in the USA that the performance of these pupils was better at religious schools than at comparable public schools. Dronkers and Robert (2003) found in PISA-data for 19 comparable countries that private government-dependent schools are more effective then comparable public schools, also after controlled for characteristics of pupils and parents and the social composition of the school. The main explanation appeared to be a better school climate in private government-dependent schools. Private independent schools were less effective than comparable public schools, but only after controlling for the social composition of the school. As a follow-up we now investigate, again with the PISA-data of these 19 countries, whether this positive effect of private government-dependent schools differs between pupils from different strata. We use various indicators to measure social strata: social, cultural and economic. We expect that the thesis of Coleman & Hoffer does hold for private government-dependent schools, because in these 19 countries they are mostly religious schools, which have more opportunities to form functional communities and create social capital. But for private independent schools, which due to their commercial foundation are less often functional communities, this relation is not expected to hold. However, the results show that public and private schools have mostly the same effects for the same kind of pupils and thus mostly not favor one kind of pupils above another kind of pupils. But private government-dependent schools are slightly more effective for pupils with less cultural capital. However, private independent schools are also more effective for pupils from large families or low status families.

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