The Private School Effect on Student Achievement in Mathematics: A Longitudinal Study in Primary Schools in Ghana


As the preference for private school education becomes more widespread in Ghana, the debate on the relative merits of public and private education has gained increasing relevance and importance. To assess the differences in the educational outcomes of students, it is necessary to isolate the pure effect of school choice (private versus public).  As part of a longitudinal study on teaching effectiveness in Ghana, this paper examines the effect of school type on child academic performance in mathematics. A representative sample of 73 primary schools in Ghana was selected and written tests in mathematics were administered to all grade 6 students of the school sample both at the beginning and end of the school year 2013–2014. Data on student background factors were also collected. Our analytical techniques (i.e., multilevel modelling) take into account the hierarchical structure of schools (i.e., students nested within classes, and within schools. Students in private schools appear to do better than their peers in public schools in both our correlation and multilevel analysis. The factors that stood out more clearly as important for achievement were student prior knowledge in mathematics, and school composition of students.  Implications of findings are drawn.

Keywords: Learning Outcome Differentials, Private vs. Public Schooling

Article Review Status: Published

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