Today, the The Nation’s Report Card is out, and it is dismal. The 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress, released Monday found that achievement in reading and math among fourth- and eighth-graders has dropped since 2019 in nearly every state.
To the extent that anyone could deny it before, the results settle the debate: America’s response to the pandemic set a generation of students back. But amid the bad news, Catholic schools were a bright spot, reflecting how these schools are making a difference in students’ lives.divergence between Catholic schools and public ones is so great that if all U.S. Catholic schools were a state, their 1.6 million students would rank first in the nation across the NAEP reading and math tests for fourth and eighth graders.
Catholic-school students now boast the nation’s highest scale scores on all four NAEP tests. The average score among fourth-graders in Catholic schools was 233, 17 points higher than the national public-school average, or about 1½ grade levels ahead. In eighth-grade reading, the average score for Catholic school students was 279, 20 points higher than the national public-school average, or about two grade levels ahead.
When disaggregated by race, Catholic schools showed significant gains since 2019. In particular, achievement among black students enrolled in Catholic schools increased by 10 points (about an extra year’s worth of learning), while black students in public schools lost 5 points and black students in charter schools lost 8 points. Similarly, on the eighth-grade reading test, Hispanic students in Catholic schools gained 7 points while Hispanic students in public schools lost 1 point and Hispanic students in charter schools lost 2 points.
Catholic schools lead the nation for Hispanic achievement on each of the four tests, and lead the nation in black student achievement on three of the four. They also rank first in eighth-grade reading and third in both fourth-grade reading and fourth-grade math for students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.