Catholic Education Is Thriving, New Report Reveals

Jillian Schneider | March 29, 2024

(The Lion) — During the nationwide resurgence of Christian education, Catholic schools are celebrating their continued success.

report from the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) on 2023-24 enrollment data found a number of positive trends for its pre-K-12 schools.

“Amidst societal upheaval and educational instability, Catholic schools have emerged as beacons of stability, reversing years of enrollment decline,” the report began. “This resilience underscores their enduring commitment to providing a grounded, faith-based education in a world that often seems in flux.”

While public school enrollment nationwide is declining, NCEA boasted 20 new Catholic schools opened during the 2023-24 school year.

Additionally, more than a third of its 5,900 schools have a waitlist.

And not all families are choosing these private, faith-based schools for religious reasons.

NCEA reports 21% of students and 16% of teachers aren’t Catholic, and 12% of teachers don’t report a religious affiliation.

One explanation for this is the academic rigor of Catholic education.

For example, in Ohio last year, 152 Catholic school teachers won the governor’s Thomas Edison Awards for Excellence in STEM education and Student Research. 

Contra to the false stigma that religious, private schools are exclusionary, NCEA schools also enroll roughly 8% disabled students, 19% Hispanic/Latino students, and has nearly 40% of its schools in an urban and/or inner-city locations.  

Also, about 13.7% of families are utilizing a parental or school choice program to attend Catholic schools. 

Teacher retention at Catholic schools was also found to be better (84%) compared to the nationwide average (88%), the report found. 

And it’s not just K-12 Catholic schools that are thriving.  

Catholic colleges are experiencing record high enrollment and financial support, particularly those remaining faithful to historic, Christian beliefs.