The Nation’s Report Card Shows Catholic Schools Excelling Post-Pandemic

NCEA | October 30, 2022

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Catholic school students performed at or near the top in reading and math compared to public schools coming out of the pandemic. On October 24, NAEP, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, released its findings for math and reading for grades 4 and 8. NAEP is considered the most consistent measure of U.S. student achievement over time and a lens into student success.

As one commentator observed, if Catholic schools were a state, they would be the highest performing state in the country. The data also shows that Catholic schools are near the top in learning outcomes for students receiving free and reduced-price lunch, demonstrating the system’s commitment to underprivileged students. Although Catholic school students experienced a statistically significant five-point drop in grade 8 math, Catholic school students’ average scores remained 15 points higher than the average scores of their grade 8 public school peers.

“One of the reasons Catholic schools performed so well is that our teachers showed up for the kids. In every state, we were among the first to transition to distance learning, and after that brief time, also the among the first to return students to a safe in-person environment. That’s why I call our educators heroes,” said Lincoln Snyder, NCEA President/CEO. “This is a proud moment for our Catholic schools, but we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. The nation’s top priority must be working together to help our kids grow and excel as we emerge from this pandemic.”

Setting an industry standard, more than 90% of Catholic schools opened safely, in person, five days a week with hybrid options during the pandemic. This is compared to approximately 56% of public schools. Catholic schools worked to meet the educational, economic, mental health and spiritual needs of students and staff. This intentional dedication to Catholic school education also has shown an enrollment increase in Catholic schools as reported in the NCEA Data Brief: 2021 – 2022 Catholic School Enrollment.

The reading and mathematics assessments are given every two years to students at grades 4 and 8. The reading portion measures reading comprehension by asking students to read selected grade-appropriate materials and answer questions based on what they have read. For math the assessment tests knowledge and the students’ ability to apply their knowledge in problem-solving situations. Both results present a broad view of students’ reading and math knowledge, skills and performance over time in public and non-public schools. Aside from Catholic schools, other private schools did not meet the minimum standard of responses to be included in the 2022 assessment.

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. To view the details of the full report go to:

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The National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) strengthens Catholic school communities by providing professional development, formation, leadership and advocacy.