23 SES 05 D, Policies and Practices of Parental School Choice (Part 1)
Paper Session to be continued in 23 SES 06 D
1. Background, perspective and objective
1.1 Religious schools in secularized societies
Across much of Europe there is ample evidence to suggest a sharp decline in religiosity (Norris & Inglehart, 2011). At the same time, the market share of religious schools remains virtually unchanged. There are several explanations for this (Denessen, Driessen & Sleegers, 2005). First, a significant number of parents choose the local religious school simply because it is the nearest school. Second, a committed core of devout parents continue to choose religious schools for reasons having to do with piety. Moreover, several Protestant denominations but also Muslim and Hindu parents have joined their ranks. Yet perhaps the number one reason why religious schools continue to be selected concerns their academic reputation.
1.2 Quality, output and funding
Especially since theColeman, Kilgore and Hoffer (1981) report, numerous studies have been conducted into the outcome effects of denominational schools. Underlying some of this research is the question of whether the state is responsible for financing religious schools. Indeed, the mere fact that so many children attend religious schools appears to support to the idea of equally funding all schools (Merry, 2007). Further, if many religious schools outperform nonreligious schools, then there also are reasons to think that nonreligious schools may have something to learn from them (Jeynes, 2002). These matters concern not only the financing of schools but also the increasing amount of attention on the quality of education being offered. The notion of educational quality is deduced primarily from the output of the schools in terms of pupil achievement. Accordingly, researchers have been keen to determine the possible relationship between denomination and educational results. While much research has been done, mostly focusing on differences in academic achievement, the results remain inconclusive (Avram & Dronkers, 2010).
1.3 Explanations for output differences
In so far as output differences that appear to be attributable to the schools’ denomination are encountered, several explanations have been offered. For example, Dijkstra (1997) mentions the selectivity thesis, which suggests that the differences between religious and nonreligious schools can be explained by the fact that religious schools attract better and more motivated pupils. Another explanation concerns the large degree of solidarity and involvement of parents, teachers, and administration in religious schools. Yet another explanation concerns the more effective management and administration of religious schools. A last explanation might be a strong achievement-oriented socializing culture for certain religious denominations.
1.4 Research objective
In this research we focus on the Netherlands. The Dutch case offers many illuminating insights for other European countries, particularly when we take the following into consideration: (a) the wide religious variety of religious schools; (b) the 100% state financing of religious schools, and (c) the high percentage of pupils nationwide (70%) who attend religious schools.
So how do religious and nonreligious schools in the Netherlands differ? Religious and nonreligious schools cater to different populations both in terms of the secular-religious dimension as well as the socioeconomic and ethnic dimension (Dronkers & Robert, 2008). Recently, national large-scale data have become available that make it possible to analyze a wide range of not only cognitive but also noncognitive output measures. The main question of this study is: are there any output differences between religious and nonreligious schools – taking into account their differing pupil populations?
REFERENCES Avram, S., & Dronkers, J. (2010). School sector variation in non-cognitive dimensions: Are denominational schools different? Paper Second Biennial Meeting EARLI, Leuven (B), August 25-27, 2010. Coleman, J., Kilgore, S., & Hoffer, T. (1981). Public and private high schools. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Educational Statistics. Denessen, E., Driessen, G., & Sleegers, P. (2005). Segregation by choice? A study of group-specific reasons for school choice. Journal of Education Policy, 20(3) 347-368. Dijkstra, A.B. (1997): Onderwijskansen en richting van de school. In: A.B. Dijkstra, J. Dronkers & R. Hofman (Eds.): Verzuiling in het onderwijs. Actuele verklaringen en analyse (pp. 144-184). Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff. Driessen, G., Mulder, L., & Roeleveld, J. (2012). Cohortonderzoek COOL5-18. Technisch Rapport Basisonderwijs, Tweede Meting 2010/11. Nijmegen: ITS. Dronkers, J. (2013). Toelichting op de berekening van toegevoegde waarde van reguliere basisscholen op grond van hun gemiddelde scores op hun toetsen 2011, 2012 en 2013. Versie 15 november 2013. Maastricht: Universiteit Maastricht. Dronkers, J., & Robert, P. (2008). Differences in scholastic achievement of public, private government-dependent, and private independent schools: A cross-national analysis. Educational Policy, 22(4) 541-577. Jeynes, W. (2002). Educational policy and the effects of attending a religious school on the academic achievement of children. Educational Policy, 16(3) 406-424. Merry, M. (2007). Should the State Fund Religious Schools? Journal of Applied Philosophy 24(3): 255-270. Norris, P., & Inglehart, R. (2011). Sacred and secular: Religion and politics worldwide. New York: Cambridge University Press.
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