Catholic Schools Outpace Public Schools in National Assessments

The Nation’s Report Card confirms that Catholic schools consistently achieve academic excellence.

Arlington, VA – On May 25, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, released its findings from 2019 for science for grades four, eight and twelve. NAEP is considered the most consistent measure of U.S. student achievement over time. National education experts are working to address a decrease in assessment scores for public schools, but Catholic school scores continue to remain high, outperforming public schools. Results for private and non-Catholic/other private schools were not reportable.

Science Grade 4

  Average Scale Scores Below Basic (percentages)  At Basic (percentages)  At Proficient (percentages)  At Advanced (percentages) 
Public 150 28 37 34
Catholic 164* 13* 39 46* 1

Science Grade 8
  Average Scale Scores Below Basic (percentages)  At Basic (percentages)  At Proficient (percentages)  At Advanced (percentages) 
Public 153 34 32 31
Catholic 167* 18* 34 45* 3

*Significantly different (p < .05) from public.
NOTE: Some apparent differences between estimates may not be statistically significant.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2019 Science Assessment.

“Among the many contributions to society of a Catholic school education is the confidence that students receive an academically rigorous education. Year after year, the NAEP results validate this commitment to academic excellence,” said Kathy Mears, NCEA Interim President/CEO. “Dedicated teachers, staff and administrators ensure that educating the whole person in the light of Catholic faith knows no bounds.”

The science assessment is given periodically to students in grades four, eight and twelve (grade twelve Catholic school results were not reported because of lower school participation rates) and measures students’ knowledge of three broad content areas — physical science, life science and Earth and space sciences. The assessment measured students’ science knowledge in these areas as well as their ability to engage in scientific inquiry and to conduct scientific investigations in real-world contexts.

NAEP is part of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Since 1990, it has been the primary federal entity collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. NCES is located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. NCES fulfills a congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally. The details of the full report are available online.

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