National Catholic Schools Week Guide – Pages 23 & 24
ARE EXCELLING ACADEMICALLY, POST-PANDEMIC
A report by the U.S. Department of Education shows a drop in the national average scores in mathematics and reading for fourth- and eighth-grade students. But despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic schools maintained a high standard of quality in their teaching and fared better than their public school counterparts.
The recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report, also known as "The Nation's Report Card," reveals a three-point drop from 2019 to 2022 in the national average scores in reading for both fourth- and eighth-grade students. The national math scores for fourth graders fell five points while the national math scores for eighth graders dropped eight points since 2019. The national score declines in math are the largest ever recorded.
A deep dive into the breakdown by school type shows that Catholic school fourth graders saw their average reading score drop only two points since 2019, compared to the three-point drop for public school fourth graders. Public school eighth graders saw a similar three-point drop in their average reading score while Catholic school eighth graders' average score went up by one point.
Meanwhile, fourth- and eighth-grade public school students have scored five to eight points lower in mathematics since 2019. Catholic school fourth graders' average math scores remained the same from 2019 to 2022, while their eighth graders' scores only fell five points since 2019.
'The results also underscore the importance of instruction and the role of schools in both students' academic growth and their overall well-being," says Peggy Carr, commissioner of the Nation Center of Education Statistics, highlighting the adverse effects of the pandemic, the closing of schools and student learning, in a statement accompanying the NAEP report.
President and CEO of the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) Lincoln Snyder told the Catholic News Agency that he is very proud of how Catholic schools performed during the pandemic.
Catholic schools were among the first to return to in-person instruction following the nationwide lockdown. Snyder attributes the difference in scores between public and Catholic schools to their educators choosing to be physically present for the students.
"Our students benefited from our communities doing everything they could offer," he said.
According to an NCEA press release, as much as 92% of Catholic schools reopened by September 2020 and offered in-person classes five days a week during the pandemic.
In addition to performing better than public schools, Catholic schools also enjoyed a 3.8% increase in enrollment during the 2021-2022 school year.
OUR STUDENTS BENEFITED FROM OUR COMMUNITIES DOING EVERYTHING THEY COULD OFFER
Lincoln Snyder, President and CEO National Catholic Education Association (NCEA)