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Study: Catholic teachers draw better grades from students for less pay

Good teacher high five student classroom

Drazen Zigic | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 03/03/23

Data from the 2020 and 2021 school years show that Catholic teachers make less money and work longer hours, but get better results.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), an arm of the U.S. Department of Education, has released new data which found that Catholic school teachers tend to work longer hours for less pay than those in public schools, while drawing better results from their students. The report, published in December, examined data from the 2020 and 2021 school years, and based its findings on a survey of teachers and principals by the Census Bureau. 

In the survey, public school teachers reported working an average of 52 hours per week, one fewer hour than Catholic school teachers, who reported working 53 hours per week. While the difference is somewhat marginal, it would still imply Catholic school teachers working 52 hours more than public school teachers annually. This means Catholic school teachers work the equivalent of one week more than public school teachers each year. 

On the subject of annual salary, it was found that Catholic school teachers can make as much as 26% less than their public school counterparts. The average base salary of public school teachers was around $61,600, while Catholic school teachers bring in only an average of $45,200. The difference of more than $16,000 is significant, although the report did not note the locations of surveyed teachers. The pay rates for teachers vary widely by state. 

Nevertheless …

Still despite the lower pay rate and the more demanding schedules, Catholic school teachers were found to draw better results from their students. Examining the reading test scores for fourth graders, public school students averaged a score of 216, while their Catholic school peers achieved an average of 233. These results were practically mirrored in the scores of eighth graders, with public school students achieving scores of 259 and Catholic students eclipsing them at 279.

The higher reading scores of Catholic students are not an anomaly, as 2015 data showed that grade 12 public school students averaged only 285 points, while Catholic school students averaged 311 points. 

Furthermore, math scores were also found to be higher in Catholic school students. The 2022 analysis of fourth grade math scores found public school students again at a disadvantage, scoring only 235 points compared to Catholic students’ score of 246. Eighth graders again mirrored these figures, with public students scoring 273 and Catholic students beating them at 288.

Read the full report at the NCES website.

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