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Title:Mathematics Performance in Public and Catholic Elementary Schools: Explaining the Disparity
Author(s):Crane, Corinna C.
Director of Research:Lubienski, Sarah T.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Lubienski, Sarah T.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Gutierrez, Rochelle; Robinson-Cimpian, Joseph P.; Lubienski, Christopher A.
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Elementary Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Catholic schools
public schools
Public Choice Theory
teacher certification
teaching practices
education policy, mathematics instruction, mathematics achievement, multi-level modeling
Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class (ECLS-K)
Abstract:For several decades it has been a common belief that private schools do a better job of educating the nation’s children than do public schools. Public Choice theorists in particular argue that public schools are inefficient and ineffective because they are accountable to bureaucracies, while private schools are superior because they are accountable to consumers and must strive for improvement in order to attract and retain students. However, recent research has challenged this assumption, providing strong evidence that public elementary school students are making greater gains on mathematics assessments than their Catholic school peers, particularly in early grades. This dissertation builds upon this research and examines possible explanations for this using the ECLS-K dataset. Specifically, this study determines how public and Catholic elementary schools differ in several areas including school or class size, school climate, autonomy, parental involvement, teacher characteristics, and teaching practices. The study then investigates if any such differences might explain why public school students make greater mathematics gains than Catholic school students between 1st and 3rd grades. The study gives particular attention to teacher curricular focus, student subscale score performance, and the concentration of items in the ECLS-K mathematics assessment to determine if Catholic school students’ smaller mathematics test score gains might be explained by a mismatch between what students learn and what is tested. Contrary to Public Choice Theory, findings indicate that public schools’ bureaucratic regulations for teacher education, curriculum and instruction might actually help instead of hinder their performance.
Issue Date:2011-01-14
Rights Information:Copyright 2010 Corinna C. Crane
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-01-14
Date Deposited:December 2

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