A recently released survey by the Education Forum found that more than half of New Zealanders believe that private schools are doing a better job of educating children than state schools. It is difficult to make general claims about school effectiveness because it is difficult to get agreement on the criteria by which schools might be judged. In most studies of school effectiveness academic achievement will be measured by performance on the secondary school examinations such as School Certificate or Bursary or by performance on standardized achievement tests. However, it may be that such examinations and tests are only short term measures of effectiveness and that schools have long term effects which differ from their short term effects. Evidence from overseas research suggests that students from state schools perform better in their first year at university than students from independent schools. In an attempt to establish whether these findings are applicable to New Zealand, we have investigated the performance of first-year university students at the University of Canterbury in relation to the types of secondary schools they attended.