Catholic School Kids Are Smarter Than Public Schoolers

Julie Ryan Evans
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Catholic schoolWell, I guess my mother was right: Catholic schools provide a stellar education. According to a recent report, Catholic school students are outperforming their public school counterparts. When SAT scores were compared, Catholic students scored an average of 23 points higher on the reading portion than public school students.

What's really impressive is that Catholic schools spend less than public schools per student -- $2,000 a year less -- and still manage to get good results. So maybe that little JMJ (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph) we had to write at the top of our school papers asking for help worked?

Experts have some other more likely explanations.

For one, people who choose to pay for an education -- or seek out scholarships to pay for it -- generally place a high priority on education. They're not just sending children to school to avoid truancy charges, and are probably likely to try and instill those values in their children. Also, because Catholic school salaries are typically lower than those of public schools for teachers, the people who take the jobs are generally quite committed and see their work as more of a mission than a job.

Some say the lack of teacher unions may also provide more flexibility. "When unions get involved in having contracts in schools, they tend to control everything from the operations, to who gets hired ... and even the curriculum for that matter," Jeanne Allen of the Center for Education Reform told FOX News.

Others argue that the numbers are skewed since Catholic schools can pick and choose who they accept as students and that they don't typically provide services for special needs students. Jack Jennings of The Center on Education Policy told Fox that when you look at "comparable kids" in both schools, there's no difference.

I grew up in Catholic schools and swore I'd never send a child of mine to one. While we were focused on all the traditional subjects, my public school counterparts had all sorts of fun and fancy classes we never had. And Latin, really? But I will say those basics provided a pretty solid foundation, and the fact I never learned to play the recorder didn't hurt me too much in life.

Fast-forward a couple of decades, guess where my son goes to school? Yep, we chose a Catholic school for him. When we looked at all the schools in our city, this one made the most sense for our family. It's tops when it comes to academics in our area, and it provides many more extras than my school ever did. So I'm glad to hear this report acknowledge the good work being done in Catholic schools.

That being said, if we move someday, I wouldn't limit our school choices to a Catholic one. I would evaluate all the choices in the area and make a decision based on them. Because while test scores and averages are well and good, it all comes down to the individual schools, which are as unique as the teachers and students that populate each one.

Are you surprised to learn that Catholic school students fare better academically on average?


Image via michael 1952/Flickr

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