The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) publishes a report each year based on their annual survey of Catholic elementary and secondary schools. The report provides information on enrollment patterns, regional geographic trends, types and locations of schools, student and staffing demographic characteristics, and student participation in selected education programs.
This report helps the public better understand the Catholic elementary and secondary school sector in the United States. It also helps provide insight for improvement in policies and other changes at the school level such as for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Schools, including BVM Catholic School in Darby, PA.
The 2021-2022 Catholic School Enrollment Data taken from these surveys showed that, “Catholic school enrollment across the nation increased by 3.8%, the first increase in two decades and the largest recorded increase by NCEA.” NCEA reported that,
“Catholic schools’ dedication in safely opening classrooms and supporting their communities’ needs last year is demonstrated in the 3.8% increase in enrollment, more than 62,000 students this year.”
Leadership in Catholic education had to make many very difficult decisions these past two years at all levels as they navigated the many challenges of Covid-19— as they continue to do still today. In doing so, leadership has remained committed to the students overall needs while following all health guidelines and keeping the schools safe.
This report brings much inspiration to see the growth in Catholic schools and reiterates our commitment. Having students in our chairs and bringing more through our door each year allows us to live out our calling as Catholic Educators.
The responsibility of providing a Christ driven school environment matched with an impressive curriculum that allows our students to thrive academically and grow in their Catholic faith is our end goal.
This enrollment growth is a measure of our school’s dedication to our mission and to the community.
As NCEA stated, “Catholic schools innovated throughout the last two years to meet the needs of their communities.” We believe this to be true however it didn’t leave Catholic schools without ongoing and new challenges.
The report recognized this well, “When schools opened this fall, they were optimistic that the worst of the pandemic was behind them. They still encountered new challenges daily as they worked to meet the educational, economic, mental health and spiritual needs of their students and staff.”
We certainly haven’t been unaffected by the pandemic however, by opening our schools before most of our neighboring schools and the public schools, we believe we prevented greater gaps in learning and many other hardships for our students.
Overall, these findings mean great optimism for those who are in support of Catholic Education! However, nationally the overall Catholic school enrollment is 2.8% lower than 2019-2020.
Meaning, although “54 of the 175 Catholic school dioceses saw an increase of 1% or greater since 2019-2020, nationwide Catholic school enrollment is still lower than pre-pandemic levels.”
Therefore, this good news, after the drastic drop in enrollment the previous year, can be used as momentum to provide continued support for our Catholic Schools.
BVM Catholic School in Darby is proud of our commitment to our students and to the community in how we were able to open our doors to the students and stand as leaders in education during these trying times. Although we are still in the midst of the pandemic, we pray for continued progress in moving forward especially in the way of education.