Collection of the Data
The Mackinac Center conducted a summer 1998 survey to determine the number of additional students that privately funded schools in Michigan could accommodate for the 1998-99 school year and beyond. Questionnaires were mailed to each of the states 1,058 privately funded schools.1
Each school was asked its position on school choice proposals and to provide information on the current makeup of its faculty, staff, and student body. Schools were also asked if they would be willing and able to expand their capacity to meet increased student demand over the next four years.
Validity of the Data
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy received 325 self-selecting, self-reported responses via post. Seventeen schools that did not return the mailed survey were interviewed via telephone to determine whether data from the 325 mailed responses could be considered representative of Michigans privately funded school population in general. Data from the seventeen telephone interviews indicated little difference between survey respondents and nonrespondents in the number of open seats available to new students.
The 342 schools that participated in the study represent nearly one-third (32.3 percent) of all privately funded schools in Michigan. It was therefore determined that the information provided by the reporting schools could be used to make a realistic projection of the total number of additional students that all privately funded schools in the state of Michigan could have accommodated during the 1998-99 school year. (No attempt was made to determine capacity by grade level.)