The Impact of Day School

Last week, PEJE (Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education) released its long-awaited study “What Difference Does Day School Make?”.

The study was produced by Fern Chertok and Len Saxe (and friends) from Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies.

According to the authors:

This is the first national study designed to determine the near-term effects of day schools on the academic, social, and Jewish trajectories of former students during their college years. Conducted during the winter of 2006-07, this research drew over 3,300 Jewish respondents from college and university campuses in the top quartile of ranked schools in the United States. Employing both quantitative and qualitative methods, this study contextualizes the experiences of students from day schools through comparison with Jewish undergraduates from private and public school backgrounds.

Here are some highlights from the study. I will post some general questions/comments about it a little later.

– Alumni of Jewish high schools gain admittance to colleges and universities that represent the full spectrum of institutions of higher education including the most highly selective.

– Jewish high school alumni from a non-Orthodox background are the most positive about the level of intellectual challenge and engagement fostered by teachers in classes.

– In math, science, and computer literacy, Jewish high school alumni from both Orthodox and non-Orthodox backgrounds perceive that they were significantly less well prepared as compared with both public and private high school peers.

– There are no significant differences in the self-reported GPAs of those who attended public, private, or day schools.

– Former day school students, especially those with extensive day school experience, have shown themselves to be more resistant than their public school peers to social pressures for the type of heavy drinking that leads to other risky situations and behaviors.

– Those with extensive day school experience are also more likely to restrict their dating to Jewish peers.

– Day schools, especially those that attract students from non-Orthodox backgrounds, succeed at imparting an orientation of civic and social responsibility to their students.

The full study is available as a PDF here.

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