To Catholics nothing is more important than their children and their faith.

At the same time, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati understands the difficulties that families face when deciding how to pay for a Catholic education. Schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati operate in 46 public school districts and draw students from many more. Some of the public schools provide a quality education and the cost is virtually free to the family. So what makes a Catholic school a good value?

The benefits far outweigh the costs, the Archdiocese says.

In Catholic elementary schools, local parishes provide for a large portion of the cost of operating the school. This takes up a substantial share of the ministerial capacity of the parishes, routinely 20 percent or more of the parish budget. Parishes do this because it’s a part of the faith and ministry as a Church and a sign of their discipleship of Jesus Christ.

Do Catholic schools struggle to make ends meet? Yes, they do. Parishes, just like families, are constantly looking for cost improvement areas and greater funding avenues. It’s a constant struggle between keeping schools affordable for as many as possible and providing fair and equitable compensation for staff.

As for the benefits, look at many measures of quality. Things such as:

High standardized test scores: Catholic school students consistently outperform regional, state, and national results on standardized tests. Catholic elementary schools produced academic results that were more than 2-plus grade years ahead of national norms (Archdiocese 8th graders tested well into 10th grade academic levels). In addition,

 Catholic school students see growth as they progress through elementary grades, from one year ahead of norms in the third grade to two-plus years in the 8th grade.

High ACT test scores: Catholic high schools also outperform national norms on standardized tests. ACT scores showed that Archdiocese average student composite scores were consistently

 ranked in the top 25 percent in the nation.

College affordability: Strong academic results open the door to success at the college level. More than 98 percent of Archdiocese high school students go on to college. More than two-thirds ofthese students receive college scholarship offers. Last year they attained merit-based scholarships valued at more than $336 million, an average of more than $141,000 per student. Catholic schools represent a strong investment that prepares students for college and provide a direct benefit in college affordability.

Catholic faith: These outcomes are great, but the most important benefit of a Catholic education, the Archdiocese believes, is raising children in the Catholic faith. It’s the day-to-day teaching of faith and values, praying together, and putting faith into action through service to others. These are all part of what is passed on to students each and every day and that changes lives.