Catholic Schools Show Decline in Math Scores

True story: I spent a year in medical school. To make a long story short, at some point during the year, I felt that I wasn’t as passionate about becoming a doctor as I thought I would be. So I took a year off (the school was fine with this). In that time, I got certified to teach math. The whole eBay thing happened and I got to spend more time working with the Secular Student Alliance. I student taught and had a wonderful experience. Basically, I enjoyed the new life a lot more than the old one, and I told the medical people that I wasn’t coming back.

Somewhere in the process of all this, I needed a job to support myself. A friend told me that she had worked at a high school prior to entering the medical field and she could at least hook me up with an interview.

I got the interview. It was at a Catholic school.

The pay was ridiculous… but I was desperate. I didn’t really care about the religion aspect at the time. Catholic schools didn’t need a teacher to be certified in order to hire them and the school itself seemed like a good environment in which to teach.

The interview went well.

My suspicion is that afterwards, they Googled my name.

I never got the job.

(Or else they just had a better applicant, but that’s not nearly as entertaining a story.)

However, I can now claim the last laugh! In a highly indirect manner…:

Children in Roman Catholic schools make no more progress in reading in the early grades than similar students in public schools, and make even less progress in math, a new study finds.

“I was actually surprised to find the results that Catholic schools are worse in mathematics,” said Sean F. Reardon, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of education and sociology at Stanford University. “But, if Catholic schools aren’t subject to the same accountability requirements as public schools are, then they may not spend as much time on mathematics and literacy.”

Yep. They should’ve hired me…

Oh well. I’ve moved on to the world of public schools where I have to deal with the horror of a livable wage.

(via Rob Boston)


[tags]atheist, atheism, education, math teacher[/tags]

  • sexorcista

    Googled you name?
    That’s not fair. What you do in your spare time shouldn’t be used for job processing.
    I guess it would be wiser not to use your real name online. Ever!

  • http://terahertz.wordpress.com THz

    I wonder if the situation is different here in Alberta, where Catholic schools are (at least) equally public funded with the secular public system. These schools would at least then be accountable. Although shouldn’t a Catholic school be accountable to their invisible Big Brother, and if not Him, then the pope?

  • Milena

    Here in Ontario, Catholic schools are way better funded than public schools (I don’t know about tax money, but they get funding from religious institutions too). It’s actually a joke between students to classify the (non-private) schools by how rich they are. It goes English Catholic — English Public — French Catholic — French Public. The French schools are worse off financially, because unless a person checks off a special option when filling in taxes, the share of his or her tax money allocated for funding schools automatically goes to the English boards. I’m in the last cathegory, but our school is still very high up on Ontario’s math ratings, at least among the French schools.

  • Vincent

    I’m not surprised at all.
    I went to catholic school grades 1-8.
    I went to a public high-school.
    All of my peers who went to public middle school were WAY ahead of me in math. I had to take what to me seemed like remedial math to catch up (though I was ahead of my peers in English so that part of the study did surprise me).

    And to prove it was the school and not me, Junior year in high school I took the ACT (similar to the SAT but only used in the middle of the country) and got a perfect score on the math section, and Senior year took AP calculus and got a 5 (out of 5) on the AP exam.

    Of course I loathe math because it – at least what I was exposed to – was very boring*, and those scores meant I never had to take a math class again, and I never did.

    *2+2=4..always. I much preferred subjects where there is no always right answer.

  • Rachel

    I read the thread on salaries and almost choked.
    Well I don’t know if the following story is irony or verification….

    I went to Catholic school from 1-8, I did so badly (mostly due to behavoral problems and railing against the catholics and dogma) by grade 8 they told me to take “basic” in highschool (at the time I finshed grade 8 in ontario, highschools had 3 levels, basic, standard and advanced).
    I thought screw them and went to the local technical highschool and took advanced courses (you know, the BAD technical highschool where the trouble makers went).
    I took academic courses and loved the change in non-catholic attitude so much I took everything else as well!
    This included art (they had a separate building for textiles, photography, sculpture), automotive (they had an 8 bay state of the art garage), media (we had a tv and radio station), and most importantly computer technical interfacing (electronics).
    I’m 33.
    I’m finishing my masters in computer science.
    I clear 6 figures.
    Work as a senior technical expert for a major software company.
    I just opened up my own side software firm.
    I plan on my first quarter million by the time i’m 40.

    HA! to catholic schools. send your kids to technical schools!!!!

  • http://literaghost.blogspot.com/ literghost

    What an appropriate post for today…

    Happy Pi Day, Hemant! :D

    — Miz L.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    This doesn’t really surprise me. I get the distinct impression that the reason most parents send their kids to Catholic schools is because it’s the religiously appropriate thing to do, not because they’re actually better schools. Unless it actually results in a better education, Catholic school is a waste of parents’ money IMO.

    On the other hand, I went to a Jesuit Catholic high school, which was way better than a public high school. If only all Catholics valued education as much as the Jesuits…

  • Siamang

    Oh well. I’ve moved on to the world of public schools where I have to deal with the horror of a livable wage.

    I see you don’t work for the Los Angeles school district.

  • http://justanotheratheist.blogspot.com Justanotheratheist

    I’ll second the other Catholic shool alumni here. I went 1-8 at one and than a Public High School. Now, we had great science and language programs, but our math program was a year behind. So, I was in honors classes in English and Science, but in math I was a year behind the other Freshman. Alas, I never was driven to try and catch up.

    However, I can not say anything otherwise deragotry about my Catholic School experience. I had great, dedicated teachers and small classes. I went from 7 kids in my 8th grade class to 350 in 9th. We also only had one girl in my 8th grade class. I guess they wanted our attentions focused elsewhere.

  • Josha

    I went to Catholic school 7-12 and my love of school increased dramatically after being switched out of the public school system. Classes were smaller and getting good grades was desirable- we were very competetive with each other.

    I did well in math but I’m not very mathematically literate. But they did offer college and AP courses for those who excelled in math.

    My brother said religion class was interesting for him because half of the class were raised Catholic and devoted to the faith and the other half were raised Catholic and hated the faith. He said it made for interesting class discussions.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    I had one very enthusiastic (and dusty) Maths teacher at school. His emphasis was always on mathematics and how interesting it was, never on anything else. Maybe that’s where the Catholic schools are going wrong.

  • http://mytensmakt.blogspot.com/ BryanJ

    Well, if part of your belief system includes the idea of 1 + 1 + 1 = 1, you’re bound to have trouble with math.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    Well, if part of your belief system includes the idea of 1 + 1 + 1 = 1, you’re bound to have trouble with math.

    I remember a proof for this using binary and another that I built in my old electronics class.

  • GoDamn

    As an xian put it on fstdt.com (Fundies say the darnest things):
    “I can put it in three words – Evolution is a lie”.

  • http://intj-mom.livejournal.com INTJ Mom

    We have a Catholic school complex in Draper, Utah that does K-12 and it’s supposedly very highly rated. My big problems with public schools here in my area are that they are extremely over crowded and there’s no discipline or respect for peers and teachers. Bullying is a huge problem. My son is very small for his age, and I just couldn’t in good conscience send him to public school here. So I am actually looking into Catholic school.

    I’m planning to hold DS back a year, so he won’t start K until 2009. I think it would be good for him to learn about religion. We’ve talked about it a bit, because my mom is pretty devout Mormon and most of our neighbors are Mormon. And it seems from my own observations over the years that if parents don’t talk about their beliefs with their kids, then the kids are more easily sucked into religion when they get older. Just for one quick example: My inlaws never talked about religious belief when my DH and his siblings were growing up. They just had a really general overall nondenominational belief in “god”, but it wasn’t talked about, they didn’t pray, etc. All the kids converted to whatever belief system their spouses happened to be. When my DH and I were getting married, he told me he’d convert to Mormon if I wanted him to. My DH initially became non-theist just because I was. I’ve observed this type of thing in many different families over the years.

    I just need to get my son to not be so openly confrontational with people about Christianity. He has a habit of telling anyone he discovers believes in Jesus that “Jesus is just pretend. Like Darth Vadar & spider-man.” Sometimes that doesn’t go over too well with people.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    Spider-man isn’t pretend. Is he?

  • Keith

    I’m a little surprised, but only a little. Never a Catholic (or any religion for that matter) my parents dropped me in a private school for 8 years because the education was supposedly better than public. In my case it was, when I graduated and went to public high school I (along with all my prior classmates who went to the same hs as I) ended up about 2 years ahead of my peers. Two other private schools in the area and they held poor reputations. I believe, as with public schools, it’s all in where you end up. That said, in a strange twist I had no idea what creationism was until I got to public school. 8 years worth of science teachers in private school actually taught us science; no mention of God outside of the weekly religion class and school mass every Wednesday morning. One hell of a lucky dice roll there.

  • julie marie

    I’m surprised too; I thought the Catholic schools were providing generally superior education. But I guess that just shows its good to check things out rather than take them on *ahem* faith.

  • Maria

    On the other hand, I went to a Jesuit Catholic high school, which was way better than a public high school. If only all Catholics valued education as much as the Jesuits…

    same here. around here the Catholic schools are much better in everything than the public. I did get a good education at mine. too bad they aren’t as good in other places too. I’m not surprised they are falling behind for some reason…….

  • http://inthenuts.blogspot.com King Aardvark

    Heh, I went to the catholic highschool because my local public highschool smelled like urine.


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