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Sociologist edits new book analyzing school sector effects on students

Author: Arts and Letters


“School Sector and Student Outcomes,” edited by renowned University of Notre Dame sociologist Maureen T. Hallinan, has been published by Notre Dame Press.

Differences in students’ performance across different school sectors – specifically, public, private religious, and private nonreligious schools – has long been an important topic in the sociology of education. In recent years, debate over the merits of each sector has increased between advocates and critics of school choice, as exemplified by current struggles over educational vouchers and their ramifications for public policy and politics.

“The volume presents a set of theoretically grounded research studies that examine the effects of school sector on students’ academic and social development,” Hallinan said. “It compares public, private and religious schools on the basis of school organization, governance, climate, curriculum and pedagogy. The chapters identify the sources of sector differences, trace the evolution of the dual school system in the U.S., and describe the mechanisms that link school sector to student outcomes.”

One of the world’s foremost scholars in the sociology of education, Hallinan is director of Notre Dame’s Center for Research on Educational Opportunity . She is the author or editor of seven other books and more than 100 peer-reviewed articles in scholarly journals. In addition, she is the lead investigator of “Comparative Analysis of Best Practices in Public and Private Elementary and Secondary Schools,” a federally funded five-year study that is revealing new insight into the comparative achievement of public and Catholic school children.

Hallinan, the recipient of Notre Dame’s 2006 Faculty Award, 2003 Research AchievementAward, and 1997 Presidential Award, studies the determinants and consequences of the organization of students for instruction, such as how students are assigned to ability groups and what the effects of ability group levels are on student learning opportunities. She also examines the effects of school characteristics on student achievement and social development. Her work includes studies of the formation and duration of students’ cross-race friendships in middle and secondary schools.

A past president of both the American Sociological Association (ASA) and the Sociological Research Association (SRA), Hallinan also served as vice president for fellowships for the National Academy of Education. In 2004, she received the ASA’s Career of Distinguished Scholarship in Sociology of Education award.

Hallinan joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1984 as the William P. and Hazel B.White Professor of Arts and Letters, the second woman appointed to an endowed chair at the University. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Marymount College, her master’s degree in mathematics from Notre Dame and a joint doctorate in sociology and education from the University of Chicago.

Contact: _Maureen Hallinan, 574-631-7158,

Originally published by Shannon Chapla at on July 13, 2006.