Data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2000 study were analyzed to compare educational achievement of Jewish students from public religious and public secular secondary schools in Israel. Public religious school students achieved higher scores in a standardized test of reading than students at public secular schools.
This result was largely explained by students' reading habits and the home reading environment (operationalized as the number of books at home). Neither social capital (defined as school disciplinary climate and teacher helpfulness) nor participation in highbrow cultural activities explains the advantage of students at religious schools. The study suggests that Jewish observant families provide, on average, a richer reading environment than Jewish secular families, and thus are seen to promote students' reading skills.