State-integrated schools are the best value for money compared with private and state schools, according to a new report by The New Zealand Initiative.

Many parents want their kids to go to private schools. But new data crunched by policy analyst Joel Hernandez shows state-integrated schools may be a better choice.

A state-integrated school generally has a special character. For instance, a religious belief (e.g. Catholic) or a specialist teaching method such as Montessori.

State-integrated schools also charge much lower annual fees for students than private schools. Often, the annual fee might be $1500, compared with a private school average of $20,000.

This report pulled data from Statistics New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) – New Zealand’s largest research database.

Hernandez used the Initiative’s IDI school performance tool to reveal a schools’ effect on a student’s learning. It removes confounding factors like a parents’ education and income.

He uses university entrance (UE) attainment as a metric to see if a school is successful.

“We found that, on average, students at state-integrated schools are more likely to gain UE attainment,” Hernandez said.

“For instance, while the average student at a state school has a 30.5% chance of gaining UE, those at state-integrated schools had a 38.8% chance. Private schools were almost as good at 37.4%.”

There are about 42 private secondary schools in the country, 93 state-integrated and 330 state schools. On balance, New Zealand has more high-performing private schools (66.7%) than state-integrated (45.2%) and state schools (15.5%).

“Of course, education isn’t just about gaining UE. Yet, giving kids opportunities is a key part of a school’s role. If educators don’t believe every kid can gain UE, then we must lift our expectations.”

“If parents are saving up to get their child into a private school, this report shows state-integrated schools might be the best bang for their buck,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez will answer why state-integrated schools are doing so well in an upcoming report.

“In an ideal world, students should be getting a world class education at any school,” Hernandez said.

“Yet state schools are much worse off.”

The report The State of Schooling: State, state-integrated and private school performance in New Zealand can be read on The New Zealand Initiative website here.

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