Exploring Nebraska’s Private Education Sector
By Drew Catt
Exploring Nebraska’s Private School Sector is the fifth installment in our School Survey Series. This report presents an examination of private schools in Nebraska, including available seats, tuition costs, and enrollment of students with special needs. Drew Catt, the report’s author, also surveys school leaders’ opinions and concerns surrounding various types of educational choice programs.
ADDITIONAL REPORT INFORMATION
In this report, you will learn:
Interest in private educational choice programsSurveyed schools were generally amenable to the idea of private school choice programs. The most popular option was school vouchers, followed closely by education savings accounts (ESAs) and tax-credit scholarships. Though respondent schools had some concerns about regulations related to such programs, the majority would likely be willing to participate.
Private school capacityOur estimates show total statewide private school enrollment could potentially increase by 26 percent based on the number of seats projected to be open. Nationally, 41 percent say they would prefer private schooling, despite actual 2015 enrollments of only 9 percent. The report breaks out the number of known Nebraska open seats available by county, city, and grade level. Elementary schools had the largest number of open seats available, and Douglas and Lancaster counties had more open seats than other areas.
Private school tuition costs and assistanceAt respondent schools, the median overall tuition was $2,000, and the maximum tuition charged at any grade level was $11,800 for high school. On average, elementary school costs $2,489 and high school costs $5,881. Comparatively, Nebraska public schools spent approximately $11,579 per student in the 2015–16 school year. At these levels, a well-funded educational choice program would cover tuition at many of Nebraska’s private schools.
Standardized testing in private schoolsThe majority of Nebraska private schools administer a nationally norm-referenced test to their students, with 62 percent administering such tests to most grade levels. Only 4 percent of respondent schools administer the state assessment. Nearly three-fifths of respondent schools would be concerned about testing-related regulations that could come with potential educational choice programs.