Catholic Schools Outperform Public Schools in Technology and Engineering Assessments

Catholic schools continue to excel in TEL assessments among eighth grade students.

Arlington, VA – The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL) assessment scores from the 2018 testing period were released in April 2019. For the second assessment period in a row (beginning in 2014), the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) proudly proclaims that Catholic school scale scores are 16 points higher than public school scores. While scores rose for both public and Catholic schools, the measured performance of Catholic school students continues to outpace public schools.

The TEL assessment is important not only to determine what students know and can do, but to examine their opportunities to learn content and practices associated with technology and engineering. Scales range from 0–300 with a mean set at 150.

Scale Scores and Achievement Levels of Students in Public and Catholic Schools*
Technology and Engineering Literacy – Grade 8

  Public School Students  Catholic School Students 
 Scale Scores 151  167 
Achievement Levels:     
Below Basic   17
Basic   34 24 
Proficient  45   64
Advanced   4  7

*Scores are not available for other private schools  Provided by the National Assessment Governing Board 


Achievement Levels:

  • below basic (not defined, but less than partial mastery)
  • basic (partial mastery of fundamental skills and knowledge)
  • proficient (solid academic performance)
  • advanced (superior performance)

NCEA President/CEO Dr. Thomas Burnford remarked, "We are thrilled to share this good news which reinforces Catholic schools’ emphasis on science and technology, two elements parents tell us they see as being most important for their children’s ability to thrive and be successful in a global society. We welcome all parents to consider Catholic schools, places of faith formation and excellent academics, for their children."

TEL uses interactive scenario-based tasks to gauge what students know and can do. Students were asked to respond to questions aimed at assessing their knowledge and The National Center for Education Statistics 2018 NAEP TEL skill in three content areas: understanding technological principles; solving technology and engineering-related problems; and using technology to communicate and collaborate.

The National Assessment Governing Board is an independent, nonpartisan board whose members include governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators, business representatives, and members of the general public. Congress created the 26-member Governing Board in 1988 to set policy for NAEP.

To see the full report of assessment results, go to

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In service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, NCEA strengthens Catholic school communities by providing professional development, formation, leadership and advocacy.