Catholic Schools Measure Up in the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress

NRC_logoCatholic schools continue to outshine public schools in student achievement in mathematics and reading scores

The most trusted independent measure of student achievement, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), released its findings for the nation and all 50 states, as well as results for 21 urban school districts participating in NAEP’s Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA). Results show that Catholic school scores continue to trend higher than public school scores overall by up to 20 percentage points.

“Our Catholic schools marry rigorous academics, faith formation and Catholic identity,” said Brother Robert Bimonte, president of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA).  “To continually perform better than the national average by as many as 20 points is testament to the dedication of our Catholic school leadership and educators.  Most importantly, Catholic schools continue to advance academics to reflect relevant changes such as STEM, STREAM and Blended Learning without ever losing sight of our main objective – to offer our 1.9 million Catholic school students an exceptional education while nourishing and strengthening their Catholic faith.”

The assessment, which is performed every two years, compares national trends of fourth- and eighth-grade students in mathematics and reading in public and non-public schools.  Since 2005 private schools have not met the reporting standards for the assessment so no comparison is possible to Catholic schools, which have met the standards every year.

The national average scale score (out of 500) for fourth-grade reading is 221 for public school students and 237 for Catholic school students; and the average scale score for math is 240 for public school students and 247 for Catholic school students.  The eighth-grade reading average scale score is 264 for public school students and 284 for Catholic school students; and average scale scores for math is 281 for public school students and 293 for Catholic school students.

In percentages applied to the two categories of math and reading at “proficient” and “advanced” levels, the fourth- grade mathematics score is 32% of public school students at “proficient” levels compared to 40% of Catholic school students; and 7% of public school students performed at an “advanced” level compared to 8% of Catholic school students. For fourth-grade reading 27% of public school students performed at a “proficient” level and 37% of Catholic school students performed at a “proficient” level. “Advanced” level reading for fourth-grade students in public schools is 8% and for fourth-grade students in Catholic schools it is 15%.

Eighth- grade math scores for “proficient” public school students stand at 24% and for Catholic school students it is 33%.  “Advanced” level math for eighth-grade public school students is 8% and 11% for Catholic school students.  Eighth-grade reading scores at a “proficient” level are 29% for public school students and 47% for Catholic school students. Reading at an “advanced” level for public school students is 3% and for Catholic school students it is 9%.

Referred to as the Nation’s Report Card, NAEP falls under the guise of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which is the primary federal entity since 1990 for 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: