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"Catholic schools are a gift to the church - and to the nation," said Ristau. "The enormity of this gift is more striking during these challenging economic times."
In addition to the monetary rewards, the nation gains in other ways. Catholic school students excel academically on standardized tests, 99.1% graduate and 94% attend college. Studies show that graduates of Catholic schools are reliable workers, good citizens and more likely to attend church.
"Our graduates have a strong commitment to community service because that is a foundation of our schools," added Ristau. "Just this past year Catholic school students performed 2.2 million hours of public service in honor of Pope Benedict's visit. That kind of involvement is a gift to the country that cannot be measured in dollars alone."
Research on school effectiveness in the last 10 years has focused on academic outcomes, including standardized test scores, graduation rates, post-secondary aspirations and college attendance. Catholic schools, while they aspire to academic success, include among their primary objectives an understanding of the Catholic faith, a commitment to the practice of religion and a strong set of values. These goals, along with academic achievement, are the key components of the Catholic school's effectiveness.
Catholic schools provide faith formation and values. Teachers view the formation of Christian character as a non-negotiable, which is Gospel centered, environmental, cross-curricular and essential in a society where values are often ignored.
The NCEA, founded in 1904, is a professional membership organization that provides leadership, direction and service to fulfill the evangelizing, catechizing and teaching mission of the church. NCEA members include elementary schools, high schools, parish religious education programs and seminaries.
SOURCE National Catholic Educational Association