From the Right



Where Public Schools Never Beat Catholic Schools

Terence P. Jeffrey on

There is one area of competition where Catholic schools always beat public schools.

It is not in track and field. It is not in football or basketball. It is in the average scores for national reading and math assessment tests.

The National Center for Education Statistics, which is a part of the U.S. Department of Education, published a report this month on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress "long-term trend" (LTT) tests in reading and math that were given to 9- and 13-year-old American students.

The 9-year-olds took the tests in January to March 2022, according to the report. The 13-year-olds took them from October to December 2022.

The sample size among the 9-year-olds in Catholic schools in 2022 was "insufficient to permit a reliable estimate" of their average scores. It was sufficient, however, among the 13-year-olds.

In both subjects, the Catholic school students won.


In reading, the 13-year-old students in public schools had an average score of 254. Those in Catholic schools had an average score of 275.

According to the historical numbers published by NCES, 13-year-old Catholic school and public school students have taken the LTT reading test in 14 school years since 1980. In every one of those years, the Catholic school 13-year-olds beat their public school peers.

From 1980 to 2020, there were 13 years when 9-year-old students took the NAEP LTT reading test and NAEP reported the average scores for both Catholic and public school students. In every one of those 13 years, Catholic school 9-year-olds outscored public school 9-year-olds.

The math tests show the same pattern.


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