October 2022 | Number 478
The Nation's Report Card: Catholic Schools a Bright Spot Amidst Dismal News
On October 24, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), scores which fell to levels not seen in two decades, and which Education Secretary Miguel Cardona called "appalling" and "unacceptable."

According to NCES:

  • National average score declines in mathematics for fourth- and eighth-graders were the largest ever recorded in that subject.

  • The average mathematics score for fourth-graders fell five points since 2019 (from 241 to 236), while the score for eighth-graders dropped eight points (from 282 to 274). In reading, average scores for both grades fell three points (from 220 to 217 at fourth grade and from 263 to 260 at eighth grade).

  • There were no improvements in mathematics in any state or large urban district, and eighth-grade mathematics scores declined in 51 participating states and jurisdictions since the assessment was last given in 2019.

Catholic Schools

While overall private school participation in NAEP was insufficient to allow for a nationally representative sample, Catholic school participation was high enough to allow for the reporting of scores. Catholic school students’ average scores remained 15 points higher than the average scores of their eighth-grade public school peers.
Math Grade 4
Math Grade 8
Reading Grade 4
Reading Grade 8
The blue-shaded down arrows in the above charts (available at The Nation's Report Card website) represent statistically significant decreases from the previous administration of NAEP in 2019. Gray diamonds represent no statistically significant changes.

According to Kathleen Porter-Magee writing in the Wall Street Journal:

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.

Ms. Porter-Magee also observed on Twitter that "If Catholic schools were a state, they’d be the highest performing in the nation on all four NAEP tests."
Given that a 10 point gain or drop is considered to be equivalent to roughly a year of learning, Heritage Foundation Fellow Jonathan Butcher took to Twitter as well:
All of the NAEP data can be viewed at www.nationsreportcard.gov.
West Virginia Supreme Court Upholds ESA Program
In a decision applauded by school choice advocates across the country, West Virginia's breakthrough education savings account (ESA) program, signed into law last year, has been upheld by the state's high court. According to the Cardinal Institute, 93% of West Virginia kids will now be eligible for the Hope Scholarship program, with the potential for 100% eligibility by 2026.

A lower court ruling over the summer had "left more than 3,000 families who were granted a scholarship scrambling for alternatives."
Arizona ESA Repeal Officially Fails
On September 30, Arizona's secretary of state announced that opponents of Arizona's new universal education savings account program failed to garner enough petition signatures to put the program on hold for two years until a statewide vote.
The Empowerment Scholarship Program will now be open to all 1.1 million K-12 students in Arizona. Funds can be used for private school tuition and other education expenses.
Pew Survey: Private School Satisfaction Higher
According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, "About eight-in-ten parents answering about a student in a private K-12 school (79%) say they are extremely or very satisfied with the quality of the education their child is receiving, compared with 55% of those answering about a child in a public school."
Additionally, "Parents answering about a child in private school are far more likely than those answering about a child in public school to say they are extremely or very satisfied with how much input they have in what their child learns in school (61% vs. 38%, respectively). One-in-five parents answering about a public school student say they are not too or not at all satisfied, compared with one-in-ten parents of those answering about a child in private school."
Finally, "Some 46% of parents answering about a child in private school say the teachers and administrators at their child’s school have values that are very similar to their own, compared with 11% of those answering about a child in public school (78% of those answering about a child in private school say the values are at least somewhat similar vs. 50% of those answering about a child in public school)."
Private School Leader Named Terrel H. Bell Awardee
The Terrel H. Bell Award recognizes outstanding school leaders and the vital role they play in guiding students and schools to excellence, frequently under challenging circumstances. There are nine recipients of the award nationally this year, including one from a private school: Denise Aloma, Principal of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Principals are nominated by their school communities during the final stages of the National Blue Ribbon Schools application process. The U.S. Department of Education, together with the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the Association for Middle Level Education, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, bestow the Bell Award on a handful of principals each year.

Congratulations Denise!
Terrel H. Bell Awardee Denise Aloma, Principal of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Photo: www.aquinas-sta.org/about-sta/administration.
CAPE Platinum Level Partners: Archangel and Catapult Learning
Private Education: Good for Students, Good for Families, Good for America
Affiliated State Organizations a coalition of national associations serving private schools K-12

Executive Director:
Michael Schuttloffel

Outlook is published monthly (September to June) by CAPE.
ISSN 0271-145

1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Tel: 844-883-CAPE

Michael Schuttloffel
Executive Director
Phone: 844-883-CAPE