Decoding Public vs Private School Statistics

21K School · Sep 7, 2023 · 3 min read

The debate between public and private schools has long been a topic of discussion for parents, educators, and policymakers. While both types of institutions have their merits, it’s important to base decisions on well-informed data rather than assumptions. In this comprehensive analysis, we delve into various aspects of public and private schools statistics, ranging from college enrollment and college readiness to class sizes and course offerings. With the help of the data received from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), we aim to provide a balanced view to help parents and students make informed decisions about their educational paths.

Enrollment and College Readiness:

One of the key metrics used to assess the effectiveness of an education system is the percentage of graduates who enrol in college immediately after high school. Historical data indicates that private school graduates consistently outperform their public school counterparts in this regard. For instance, in the 2018-2019 school year, private schools boasted an immediate college enrollment rate of 64.5%, compared to 44% for public schools.

Furthermore, the public vs private school statistics suggest that the latter excel in preparing students for college admissions tests. On average, private school students achieve higher scores on standardised tests like the ACT, with an average composite score of 24.2, compared to 20.3 for public school students and 22.9 for homeschooled students.

Graduation Rates

  • Private schools consistently maintain a high graduation rate, reaching an impressive 96.4% during the 2018-2019 academic year.
  • In contrast, public schools achieved a graduation rate of 86% in the same period.
  • The substantial difference in graduation rates between private and public schools underscores the significance of this metric as an indicator of educational success.
  • Graduating from high school is essential as it equips students with fundamental skills that are invaluable for both higher education pursuits and success in the future workforce.

Class Sizes and Individualised Attention:

  • Class size plays a pivotal role in shaping students’ learning experiences.
  • Private schools tend to provide smaller class sizes, boasting a student-to-teacher ratio of 11.6.
  • In contrast, public schools have a higher student-to-teacher ratio of 15.8, indicating larger class sizes.
  • Smaller class sizes in private schools facilitate a conducive environment for individualised attention from teachers.
  • This focused attention greatly enhances students’ comprehension of concepts and fosters higher levels of engagement in the learning process.

Course Offerings and Curriculum Flexibility:

  • A distinctive advantage of private schools is their flexibility in designing curriculum.
  • This flexibility empowers them to offer an extensive array of courses, including those that are advanced and specialised.
  • These advanced offerings may encompass subjects that public schools might not provide due to various constraints.
  • Private schools’ ability to provide advanced courses, college preparatory programs, and specialised studies gives students a competitive edge.
  • By being exposed to a diverse range of subjects, students are better prepared for higher education opportunities and are equipped with the necessary tools for their future careers.

When considering the choice between public and private schools, it’s essential to base decisions on well-supported data. While public vs private school statistics show that the latter have a track record of higher college enrollment rates, better standardized test scores, and smaller class sizes, it’s important to remember that every student’s needs are unique. Factors such as cost, location, teaching quality, and individualized support should all be carefully weighed in the decision-making process. In the end, the goal is to provide students with the educational environment that best aligns with their goals, aspirations, and learning styles.


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