Catholic Schools Consistently Outperform Public Schools in National Assessments

The Nation’s Report Card shows that Catholic schools achieve academic excellence, year over year.

Arlington, VA – The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, released its findings on April 24 for U. S. history, geography and civics for grade 8 students. While public school scores declined, except in civics where scores remained flat, the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) is proud to report that Catholic schools continue to show excellence in mastery of subject matter.

2018 Grade 8 NAEP U.S. History Assessments

  Scale Scores Below Basic Basic Proficient Advanced
Public 262 36 50 14 1
Catholic 279 16 56 27 2

2018 Grade 8 NAEP Geography Assessments

  Scale Scores Below Basic Basic Proficient Advanced
Public 257 30 46 21 2
Catholic 276 11 45 37 7

2018 Grade 8 NAEP Civics Assessments

  Scale Scores Below Basic Basic Proficient Advanced
Public 152 29 49 21 2
Catholic 171 9 50 37 5

"As communities of faith, Catholic schools fulfill their mission to educate the whole person: mind, body and spirit," said Kathy Mears, NCEA Interim President/CEO. "The NAEP results bolster the decisions of the families of nearly 1.8 million Catholic school students to attend Catholic schools where students are provided with the best tools to fulfill their future roles as good citizens, productive and caring employees, competent professionals as well as future saints."

NAEP is considered the most consistent measure of U.S. student achievement over time, measuring what U. S. students know and can do. The U.S. history, geography and civics assessment is given every four years. Student performance on the NAEP assessments is reported in two ways: scale scores and NAEP achievement levels. Scale scores represent the average performance of students who took the U.S. history, civics, and geography assessments.

Student performance on NAEP is also reported by the percentages of students reaching three NAEP achievement levels: NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient and NAEP Advanced. Students performing at or above the NAEP Proficient level on NAEP assessments demonstrate solid academic performance and competency over challenging subject matter. The NAEP Proficient achievement level does not represent grade-level proficiency as determined by other assessment standards.

NAEP is part of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Since 1990, it has been the primary federal entity collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. NCES is located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. NCES fulfills a congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally. The details of the full report are available online.

For more information on NCEA, visit and connect with NCEA on YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.


In service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, NCEA strengthens Catholic school communities by providing professional development, formation, leadership and advocacy.