Catholic Vancouver Oct. 29, 2018

Independent schools benefit public: Cardus survey

By Agnieszka Ruck

A new report reveals graduates from independent schools are more likely to volunteer, pursue post-secondary studies, and have higher average incomes than public school grads. (Photo courtesy of Corpus Christi-St. Mark's at UBC)

A new study on education in B.C. has found independent schools are good news for the province.

The Cardus Institute, which published the findings Oct. 17, found students who graduated from faith-based independent high schools were more likely than public school graduates to volunteer in their communities, get involved politically, and view their high school experiences in a positive light.

B.C. graduates aged 24-39 were surveyed for the study.

“Looking back on their high school years, graduates of B.C. independent schools were more likely than their public school counterparts to say their school prepared them for relationships, university or college, work, and religious life,” said Cardus Education director Beth Green.

The study also found graduates from independent Catholic and non-religious independent schools were both more likely to pursue post-secondary and graduate studies and reported higher average incomes (by $13,000 to $16,000) than their peers in public or evangelical protestant high schools.

Beth Green of Cardus Education discusses the findings of a new report on education in B.C. (Laura-Anne Smid Photo)

“I am very pleased with the research,” said Shawn Chisholm, executive director of the Federation of Independent School Associations of B.C.

FISA is an umbrella organization, founded in 1966, that represents 307 Catholic, Evangelical Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Montessori, Waldorf, special needs, and other faith-based or specialized independent schools.

Chisholm praised the survey’s “holistic approach” in looking at a wide variety of measures, rather than simply exam scores and the ability to find employment after school.

“Our value as individuals, families, schools, education systems, cities, and province can not only be measured by what we can do, but also by who we are, how we support each other, how we strive to be life-long learners, and how we contribute to the greater good.”

About 13.2 per cent of all K-12 students in B.C. (nearly 100,000 people) attend independent schools, up from four per cent in the 1970s.

Despite the heated, long debate over independent schools in Canada, Green said they are good news for the government and for society.

“The independent school sector is too large to ignore and comprises a significant, productive, and positive part of the province’s education system,” she said in a Oct. 17 press release. 

“That’s remarkable when you consider that most of these schools are not elite institutions and all of them get, at best, just half the per-student government funding of public schools, with zero funding for capital costs.”

  • 13.2 per cent of B.C. students are enrolled in independent institutions.
  • Independent Catholic students are more likely to attend a university and graduate program than public or evangelical Protestant students.
  • Graduates from independent non-religious or Catholic schools report higher average incomes than public or evangelical Protestant grads by between $13,000-$16,000.
  • Graduates from independent schools are 2.2 times more likely to volunteer than those who graduated from public school.
  • Evangelical Protestant grads are more likely to give of their finances than other independent or public school graduates.
  •  Catholic independent graduates are less likely to live together while unmarried.