Exploring Day School Pathways: Reanalysis of Day School Alumni Data – Executive Summary


Source: Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE)


The Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE) has released the executive summary of this study by Brandeis University's Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. It focuses on non-Orthodox students who spent part—but not all—of their education in day schools, and pays special attention to their academic self-confidence and aspirations, Jewish identity and engagement, campus social integration, and resistance to risky behavior.


In 2008, PEJE commissioned the Brandeis researchers who had carried out the 2007 study, The Impact of Day School: A Comparative Analysis of Jewish College Students, to reanalyze the original data and examine the educational mastery, social integration and Jewish engagement of non - Orthodox students who have taken a variety of educational pathways, including some time in a day school. Of the approximately 4,000 Jewish undergraduates in the 2007 study, data from more than 2,000 non-Orthodox students were reanalyzed and categorized into six educational pathways: day school for twelve years, day school 1-8 and private high school, day school 1-8 and public high school, day high school only, public school for twelve years and private school for twelve years.


Among the Major Findings:

Jewish Identity and Engagement: Attending a day school whether in grades 1-8 or in high school predicts involvement in Jewish campus life, but attending a Jewish high school is associated with the highest level of Jewish identity and engagement during the college years, regardless of what kind of school was attended at the middle or elementary level.


Campus Social Integration: There is no evidence to support the suggestion that undergraduates with a day school history, including those who attended Jewish high school, experience any social disadvantage once they reach college; day school graduates become involved in all aspects of campus life.


Resistance to Risky Behavior: Regardless of the educational pathway to college, non-Orthodox undergraduates with day school history succeed in avoiding binge drinking, the gateway to a variety of risky and dangerous behaviors. The reanalysis indicates that membership in fraternities is the most powerful predictor of binge drinking, and regardless of the educational pathway in grades 1-8, non-Orthodox undergraduates who attended Jewish high schools are the least likely to join these organizations and therefore significantly less likely to binge drink than those who went to public school all twelve years. Undergraduates who went from day school in eighth grade to public high school are also less likely to engage in risky use of alcohol as compared with peers who did all their schooling in a public school.


Conclusions: The message to potential day school parents is clear; a day school education through eighth grade is valuable regardless of where students plan to attend high school. But even more importantly, it is not too late to start in high school.

Updated: Dec. 03, 2009