Private vs Public Schools: Similarities and Differences

1686 words (7 pages) Essay in Education

08/02/20 Education Reference this

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Private versus Public schools has been a long debate for years. Many parents have a hard time choosing between the two. This research explores the differences and similarities between Private and Public schools. Although, there are many variations within each sector this paper includes only the five basic factors that contribute to the differences between public and private schools. This research paper includes the differences between funding, teacher pay, class size, testing, and students within each sector. This paper examines a variety of articles and research done by the National Statistics Center for Education. It’s important to know how each sector differs when choosing the right schools for children

Private VS. Public Schools Similarities and Differences

Private schools and Public schools are the two most common academic sectors. There are about fifty-one million students attending the United States public schools in kindergarten through senior year, and about another six million students are admitted in private schools (NCES,2015). Although, only about 6 million students are enrolled in private sectors low-income parents believe that private sectors offer a better education than public schools. There are about 71% of Americans that believe private schools are better at educating children with the best education from kindergarten through senior year. (Saad, 2017). Parents have the perceived idea that private schools provide students with the best education. This is mainly because of how they view the schools. They view the crumbling neighborhood public schools down the block and then look at the gilded private schools in suburban areas and there’s a proneness to imagine both like this and to assume that private schools are better. To truly understand which school is better we must look at the differences amongst the two as well as what they have in common.


Many factors affect the role of private and public schools. One of the main differentiating factors is how schools are funded. Public schools rely mainly on local, state, and federal government funds. Private schools are mostly assisted by tuition payments and sometimes by funds from other non-public sources like, endowments, religious organizations, grants, and charitable donations. In some other states, private schools can also receive public funds for certain services (Choy, 1998). In other words, public schools are governmentally funded therefore; being free to all students while private schools charge tuition to every student and are not governmentally funded. Since, Private schools do not receive government funding and must raise their own funds the private school officials get more flexibility into running schools as they see fit. Whereas, public schools must follow strict rules announced by elected school board members.

 Teacher Pay

  Students’ academic achievement depends greatly on the nature and experience of teachers. Its crucial to know that private and public schooling varies in teacher pay. The ability of schools to hire and retain excellent instructors is of great character and is fundamentally linked to relative teacher pay. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011-12 the gap between full time teachers in public and private schools differed greatly. In public schools alone, the mean salary for a teacher was about $53,070 dollars. With a doctorate degree in public schools, the mean salary was about $60,230 dollars. In private schools, the mean salary for teachers was about $40,200 dollars. With a doctorate degree, the average was $52,590 dollars. The variance in pay from the mean salary is nearly $34,893 dollars. Teachers pay varies depending on the level of experience but based on these statistics even with a doctorate degree public schools pay more than private schools. Although, private school teachers get paid less than public school teachers it has been reported that private school teachers are more likely to be satisfied with their working conditions.

 Class size

Class size is a key influence in education. Many parents worry that their children are not getting the required attention they need to succeed. Current researchers from the Department of Psychology and Human development; wrote “Examining the effect of class size on classroom engagement and teacher-pupil interaction: Differences in relation to pupil prior attainment and primary vs. secondary schools”. This experimentation shows that the more students in a classroom the faster students tend to lose focus on the teacher. The likelihood of students to be focused on the teacher when more students are in the classroom remarkably drops. According to the National Center for educational statistics, “public primary schools in the united states had an average class size of 20 for teachers in self-contained classes in 2003-08. In private schools, the average class size for teachers in self-contained classes was 18.” Public schools are becoming exigently overcrowded than private schools as years go by. Parents worry that children in public schools aren’t getting enough one on one interaction with teachers. Smaller class sizes allow teachers to give more individual attention to students and significantly lightens the teacher’s workload.


One important factor in public and private schools is testing. Both sectors are required to test the student’s knowledge. Although, private schools don’t have as much standardized testing as public schools do private schools must have a form of test that proves that students are learning. The National Assessment of Educational Progress reported that at the fourth-grade level, all variations of private schools scored higher than public schools. The research also considered the comparisons of scores after the demographic deviations have been controlled. The results varied substantially. It’s crucial to become fully aware that public schools have higher percentages of Hispanic, low income, and special education students. When controlling these demographics research showed that in all categories such as math, science, and reading public schools scored higher or equal to private schools. Even though private schools score higher overall, when you control the demographics public schools score higher than private schools. Standardized test scores is only a small factor in what parents hope schools deliver for children Therefor, Parents must decide if overall this will affect their decision when choosing between private and public schools.


Many of the ways that private and public schools differ affect the different kind of students the schools receive. The Student population is widely different in both sectors. Private schools have a higher population of all-white students than public schools. About 43 percent of the nation’s private school students attended virtually all-white schools, compared to 27 percent of public-school students (Alexis, 2016). Since, public schools are free they receive a wide variety of racially and ethnically diverse students. Parents and teachers believe that this allows students to develop an understanding of the perspectives from children of diverse backgrounds.


There are many kinds of differences and similarities between public and private schools. While some systematic differences between public and private schools have been outlined in my research, there are many more variations within each sector. Based on the research conducted in my paper Private and Public school are widely different. In summary, Private schools are not governmentally funded while public schools are. Teachers in private schools get paid less than public school teachers, but they tend to like their working conditions more. Private schools provide smaller class sizes and have less testing while public schools have larger class sizes and more testing. Private schools are more likely than public schools to have a wider range of white students. In my opinion, there is no wrong or right answer between public and private schools. It all comes down to the kind of child you have and what you as a parent want that child to experience.


  • Alexis Buchanan (April 4,2016). The racial makeup of private schools-often-nonprofit is very white. Retrieved from
  • Allegretto, S. A., & Tojerow, I. (2014). Teacher staffing and pay differences: public and private schools. Monthly Labor Review. Retrieved from
  • Blatchford, P., Bassett, P., & Brown, P. (2011). Examining the effect of class size on classroom engagement and teacher-pupil interaction: Differences in relation to pupil prior attainment and primary vs. secondary schools. Learning & Instruction, 21(6), 715–730.
  • Fan F.A. (May 2012) Class Size: Effects on Students’ Academic Achievements and Some Remedial Measures. Retrieved from
  • Great school staff (November 3, 2017). How important is cultural diversity at your school? Retrieved from
  • Patrick J. Wolf (University of Chicago press,2013). Comparing Public schools to Private. Retrieved from
  • Saad, L. (2017, August 21). Private Schools First, Public Schools Last in K-12 Ratings. Gallup Poll News Service. Retrieved from
  • School and Staffing survey (SASS). National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a part of the U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from
  • The Condition of Education – Preprimary, Elementary, and Secondary Education – Elementary and Secondary Enrollment – Elementary and Secondary Enrollment – Indicator May (2018) Retrieved from
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