BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - News 4 has obtained the standardized test results for nonpublic schools, and we have been examining how Catholic schools fared as compared to public schools.
Catholic schools were not required by the state to test their students based on the new Common Core standards. But they took the tests anyway, and did well, to say the least. WNY Catholic school students aged 3 through 8 tested 15- to 20-percent higher in English and two- to five-percent higher in math than public school students statewide.
Buffalo Diocese School Superintendent Sister Carol Cimino said, "We teach differently, I think, because we're able to infuse values, and a lot of our class sizes are smaller. It's just a whole different playing field."
Catholic values are shared between the home and the school. But beyond the value system, teachers at St. Gregory the Great in Williamsville began training for the new Common Core teaching standards two years ago.
Math teacher Shelly Reidy said, "I think my teaching is getting better because I'm understanding better the connections and the links."
In Buffalo Public Schools, 11.5 percent of students who took the test were proficient in English Language Arts, compared to 46 percent of Diocesan students.
The results in math: 9.6 percent to 33 percent.
While the differences are dramatic, the tests are being treated by the Diocese as only "snapshots" of a student's level of performance. At Catholic schools, standardized test results play less of a critical role in the evaluation of students and teachers.
"This is not the end all and the end all. No kid is going to fail because he or she did poorly on the state test," Sister Cimino said.
St. Gregory Principal Patricia Freund added, "We don't have the pressure on us that they have in the public system because it's used in so many different ways to evaluate teachers, to rank schools."
Less pressure leads to better classroom performance, says Reidy.
"When I go to the Catholic high schools and say how are our kids prepared, and they say very well, that's my evaluation," she said.
St. Gregory even outperformed schools in the high performing Williamsville district.
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