There are many choices of schools in our area, charter schools, good public schools and other religious schools. But studies still show the benefit of Catholic school compared to any other. Why can’t you replicate Catholic School fully. Charter schools seem to be trying but cannot. “As leading charter advocate take an honest and hard look at their work, many reformers are also taking this moment to explore what else we can glean from Catholic schools, which have demonstrated more durable results. They’re looking beyond what’s easy to replicate and examining fundamental questions about the values and beliefs that may be foundational to the long-term impacts that Catholic schools have had.
That quest must inevitably lead them to the beliefs and values that form the foundation of Catholic education, for Catholic school success is not simply the product of rigorous curriculum, structure, and order. It’s also the result of a school culture animated by the belief that every child is made in the image and likeness of God and focused on drawing out of every pupil their own God-given potential.
Careful observers will also see that Catholic schools’ academic results are not actually the main goal; rather, they’re byproducts of schools that focus on forming young people not just with the skills that will make them financially successful, but also with the habits of virtue and values that will make them choose to do good and contribute to their communities.
After all, the evidence suggests that Catholic schools continue to demonstrate strong long-term outcomes, even as they struggle financially and struggle to compete for student enrollment and for solid state test scores. For example, girls who attended Catholic schools are more likely to avoid early pregnancy and boys are less likely to face incarceration. Research has also shown that Catholic school graduates are more likely to be civically engaged, to vote, to volunteer, and to give to charitable causes than their public-school peers.
Put more simply: When it comes to long-term life outcomes, students from high-performing charter schools seem to underperform relative to their strong test score results, whereas urban Catholic schools tend to overperform relative to their test scores. And at the core of these successes is the way Catholic schools think about their students and why Catholic educators do this work.
The goal of Catholic schools is not to secure top marks in a school rating system but to form students who opt to serve, who choose right over wrong, and who contribute to their communities. The goal of Catholic schools is not discipline and structure merely for the sake of order but for the sake of building the habits of self-management that lead to virtuous lives.
As ed reformers seek paths forward to the life-changing results they want for students, Catholic schools offer the simple but challenging lesson that purpose must be anchored to something larger and more enduring than individual-level achievement. As we work together to drive continued improvement and systemic change, it’s worth looking beyond easy-to-replicate programs and practices to the foundational values and beliefs that help schools build the habits and skills that serve young people long after they graduate.”
Kathleen Porter-Magee (2019), Thomas B. Fordham Institute, https://fordhaminstitute.org/national/commentary/why-catholic-schools-have-regained-their-place-education-reform