NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Catholic Schools Are Winners

January 25, 1999

Catholic schools in inner-cities beat public schools hand down, say observers. They spend less money per pupil than public schools, yet they have higher graduation rates, lower dropout rates, and more of their graduates go on to college. Perhaps most importantly, their test scores are higher than those of comparable public school students.

Here are some cost comparisons:

  • Nationally, the average Catholic school tuition is $2,178 -- compared to an average per-pupil expense at public schools of $6,459.
  • However, at some Catholic schools tuition can run as low as $1,200 or less per year -- while per-pupil public school costs in Washington, D.C., now run to nearly $10,000 a year.

A 1990 Rand study of 13 New York City high schools -- some public, some Catholic, some private and non-Catholic -- reported that:

  • Catholic schools graduated 95 percent of their students -- compared to only 50 percent of students in public schools.
  • Two-thirds of Catholic school graduates received the New York State Regents diploma for completing a college prep program -- while only 5 percent of public school graduates received the diploma.
  • Eighty-five percent of Catholic high school graduates took the SAT -- formerly called the Scholastic Aptitude Test -- compared to one-third of public high school graduates.
  • Children in Catholic schools performed, on average, one grade level higher than their counterparts in public schools.

Catholic schools are aided, observers believe, by the fact that they are less bureaucratic than public schools, enforce conduct and dress codes, and have fewer discipline problems.

Source: Michael Chapman, "The Magic of Catholic Schools," Investor's Business Daily, January 25, 1999.


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