By Tommy Schultz
In case you missed it, American education is in free-fall. The National Center for Education Statistics released the first national test scores for fourth- and eighth-graders since before the pandemic, and the news is somehow worse than we could have imagined, with catastrophic learning loss, the largest declines ever recorded and decades of progress wiped out.
But in America’s Catholic schools, the failure and free-fall simply did not happen. In fact, in both math and reading, Catholic scores stayed the same or improved in areas where public schools dramatically declined.
For instance, Catholic students in 8th grade saw a one-point average increase in their reading scores, compared to the three-point drop for public school 8th graders. Scores for 4th-grade math stayed the same for Catholic schools but dropped five points for public schoolers in the same grade.
The losses facing America’s public-school students can’t be overstated — researchers typically consider 10 points as equivalent to a year’s worth of learning, so most of our public-school students have lost months they can’t get back.
Unsurprisingly, the education establishment has been scrambling. They seemed unable to decide whether this disaster affected all states regardless of COVID closures (it didn’t), or whether it was the inevitable result of trying not to spread the virus. A quick look at European schools throughout much of the last few years casts doubt on that idea, but Catholic schools now offer a powerful rebuttal much closer to home.