Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

U.S. study gives Catholic schools poor marks

Date:
October 31, 2013
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
A national U.S. study suggests Catholic schools are not superior to public schools after all.

A national U.S. study led by a Michigan State University economist suggests Catholic schools are not superior to public schools after all.

Math scores for Catholic students dropped between kindergarten and eighth grade, while math scores for public school students increased slightly. In addition, Catholic students saw no significant increase in reading scores or better behavioral outcomes between kindergarten and eighth grade.

"Across many outcomes, both academic and behavioral, we don't find anything that seems to point to a real benefit of Catholic schools over public schools," said Todd Elder, MSU associate professor of economics.

There are more than 2 million students in 6,700 Catholic schools in the United States, according to the National Catholic Educational Association.

The study, published in the Journal of Urban Economics, is the first to examine test scores starting in kindergarten. Results from the first national standardized tests in math and reading -- taken just weeks after the start of kindergarten -- show that Catholic school students perform much better on average than public school students.

That huge gap is likely due to higher socioeconomic status for families who send their children to Catholic schools, Elder said. "What you see is that the kids who go to Catholic schools are much, much different the day they walk in the door than the kids who go to public schools."

But if Catholic schools were truly better, as past research implies, that achievement gap would widen as the students progressed through school -- and it doesn't, in either math or reading, Elder said. In fact, when it comes to math scores, the public school students closed the gap considerably by the eighth grade.

"That's the shocking finding," Elder said.

While previous research has noted that Catholic school students generally outperform public students academically, it has missed the point that Catholic students essentially start off in kindergarten with an advantage that has nothing to do with the schooling itself, he said.

One possible explanation for lower Catholic school achievement is that Catholic school teachers typically make less than public teachers. The study notes that in 2008, private elementary school teachers had an average salary of $35,730 compared to $51,660 in public schools -- a 45 percent difference.

"Some people say Catholic schools are doing more with less," Elder said. "But these findings suggest they're not doing more with less -- that they may, in fact, be doing less with less."

Another possible explanation is that public schools have better designed curriculum, the study says.

Elder analyzed the data of about 7,000 students who participated in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study: Kindergarten Class of 1998-99. The students were surveyed in kindergarten, first grade, third grade, fifth grade and eighth grade.

In addition to math and reading scores, the study looked at behavioral outcomes and other factors including absences, suspensions, tardiness and repeating grades. "Taken together," the study says, "the estimates in this paper do not point to any beneficial effects of Catholic primary schooling."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Todd Elder, Christopher Jepsen. Are Catholic Primary Schools More Effective Than Public Primary Schools? Journal of Urban Economics, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.jue.2013.10.001

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "U.S. study gives Catholic schools poor marks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031103309.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2013, October 31). U.S. study gives Catholic schools poor marks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031103309.htm
Michigan State University. "U.S. study gives Catholic schools poor marks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031103309.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Fears are mounting in Bangkok that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) California lawmakers pass a bill requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on campuses. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) In the midst of a historic drought, Los Angeles is increasing efforts to go after people who waste water. Five water conservation "cops" drive around the city every day educating homeowners about the drought. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins