Toward a Healthy Society
 
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Cardus Education Survey 2016: Educating To Love Your Neighbour

The Full Picture of Canadian Graduates

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: 

Since 2011, Cardus Education has led the way in measuring graduate outcomes from the religious independent schools, including evangelical Protestant, Catholic independent, and religious homeschool. This is the fourth report drawing upon Cardus Education Survey (CES) data, a testament that we still believe that if “something is worth doing, it is worth measuring.” It is also worth continually measuring because times change. And while there are many findings in the following report that are similar to those found in the 2012 report, you may notice a slight change of focus. 

In previous reports we looked at the vision and mission statements of both public and independent schools to highlight how the religious independent schools were, indeed, meeting both their own expectations and the expectations of the public schools. That is, they were forming graduates who were thoughtful and civically minded, concerned with personal growth and contributors to the public good. In many instances, the religious independent school graduates did these just as well or better than their public school peers. Earlier reports also focused upon the “myths” surrounding religious school graduates and used the data from the Cardus Education Survey to debunk them. That religious school graduates were fundamentalists cloistered within homogenous communities was (and continues to be) simply not true. 

In this report our goal is to provide a “fuller picture of Canadian graduates.” That is, too many studies of graduate outcomes provide a reductive analysis of how well education prepares one for a good job. While this matters, our report enfolds graduate job and income findings into a much broader, multi-dimensional focus that additionally looks at the school effects on political involvement and religious orientation, habits of home and social ties, levels of trust in institutions, and how much a graduate gives of his or her time and resources. In other words, we want to go beyond a two-dimensional analysis and give you a fuller picture of how Canada’s graduates are being prepared for adult life together. 

Finally, the following report provides reasons for both celebration and concern to each school sector. We have refrained from editorializing and weighing in on the data with interpretations and evaluation throughout. So while this report casts light on the various educational sectors, it also holds up a mirror to each sector.

Some of our findings include: 

  • PUBLIC SCHOOL GRADUATES have the same trust in civic institutions as their peers, but are less likely to be engaged with such institutions than their peers who graduated from independent schools.
  • SEPARATE CATHOLIC GRADUATES are largely indistinguishable from public school graduates, but school sector does affect an increased likelihood in observing traditional classic religious practices.
  • CATHOLIC INDEPENDENT GRADUATES have a higher likelihood of being married and are less likely to cohabitate; they also have significantly bigger families. These graduates have a more diverse set of social ties although fewer close ties than public school graduates.
  • NONRELIGIOUS INDEPENDENT GRADUATES are less likely to participate in the political process than public graduates, and more likely to get political news from non-mainline news sources (blogs and the Internet).
  • EVANGELICAL PROTESTANT GRADUTES are more likely to attend church, observe religious disciplines, and strengthen their relationship with God than public school graduates. These graduates are also just as politically and civically engaged as their peers from public schools.
  • RELIGIOUS HOMESCHOOL GRADUTES are less trusting and confident in a whole range of public institutions than public school graduates; they are also increasingly more likely to see the society as hostile to their values. However, they are just as engaged with political life as their peers from public schools. Their school also forms graduates who attend church, observe religious disciplines, and strengthen their relationship with God more so than public schools.

INTRODUCTION: 

The Benchmark Study of Religious Education in North America

In 2011, Cardus collected and analyzed the first data sets about the outcomes of graduates from religious independent schools—which include evangelical Protestant, Catholic independent, and religious homeschools—throughout Canada and the United States. As we said back then, and continue to say today, “If something is worth doing, it is worth measuring.” But until the publication of the Cardus Education Report, there had actually been very little quantitative measurement to substantiate any claims made about these institutions, positive or negative. But now over half a decade later we are proud that our education measurements in the Cardus Education Survey continue to be the benchmark study of non-government religious school outcomes in North America. This current 2016 report is the fourth in a series of Cardus education reports that analyze graduate outcomes in both Canada and the United States. 

The first wave of Canadian data can be found in the 2012 report “A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: Measuring Non-government School Effects in Service of the Canadian Public Good” That report, like all the others, was not limited to religious schools, but surveyed graduates aged twenty-four to thirty-nine from the wide range of educational sectors available to Canadians in order to provide the most comprehensive comparison of secondary graduates to date. (It should be noted, then, that the data you will find here is not measuring schools as they are today, but as they were when graduates attended them.) The types of graduates surveyed included Catholic independent, separate Catholic, independent non-religious, evangelical Protestant, religious home education, and, the largest sector, public school. 

In our Cardus Education reports, the graduates from the various non-public school sectors were measured against the graduates of the public school, and the findings in our first Canadian report were fascinating. Across the board, students from non-public schools were found to have stronger families with more children and fewer cases of divorce and separation, be more involved in community and cultural events and organizations, be more civically active by voting and protesting, give more of their time and money through volunteering and donations, and find more satisfaction through their careers and hobbies, among other things. To temper this a bit, it is worth noting that in each data set, the public schools set the baseline, or the standard, against which all other graduates were compared. This means that while schools may score “better” or “worse,” the measurement stacks educational sectors against one another. While work is being done on turning our attention to how the various school sector graduates measure up internationally, the current surveys are national in scope. Even providing a comparison between US and Canadian data could change the narratives. That, of course, was not the intent of the survey in 2012, nor is that the intent of the survey in 2016. For our purposes, we are interested in doing an “inhouse” survey, looking at how graduates do when stacked up against one another within Canada, particularly how the non-public graduates do when compared to the vast majority of Canadians who are public school graduates.

This is not to say there are not also challenging findings for the religious and independent schools. Graduates of these sectors also had a very limited trust in science, draw upon a narrow range of sources for learning about current events, and have quite limited access to positions of political power and cultural influence in adulthood. While these findings debunk myths that religious private schools are overly concerned with “taking over” a culture they increasingly see as hostile to their religion or way of life, they also reveal that such graduates have difficulty finding positions of influence in Canadian society. Particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), there were early indicators in 2012 that the non-government religious schools were not keeping up with some of the demands of the twenty-first-century economy and that prevalent attitudes of distrust toward science might be cultivated in such schools. For this reason, the current 2016 data set has an entire section that drills down into questions regarding experiences in and perceptions of STEM fields (and that you’ll read more about in the following report) to unpack how graduates from all sectors understand and engage with the scientific community years after secondary school. 

SITUATING THE DATA INSIDE A STORY

Of course, the story data tells depends on who is doing the reading and interpreting. Where one is standing will affect the slant with which he or she approaches the material. This was true in 2012, and it is still true in 2016. This is not to say the story is faulty or there are no “true” stories to be told, but it is to make explicit that the items that receive attention and value are the product of a certain set of biases and concerns. For instance, the focus on private education as a public good is a narrative within the results worth focusing on for private school graduates who believe they are often misrepresented in public discourse. 

In our report, the story of the data confirms, once again, that private education is a public good. However, there is also a more uncomfortable story within the data for non-government schools (particularly the religious schools) about insularity (or religious encapsulation) and public life. For this reason, the following report looks at the data with this question in mind: What is education for? 

Our contention is that education in most (if not all) school sectors is falling prey to a failure of imagination. The public sector and many of the non-government sectors have adopted a utilitarian attitude that reduces learning to something that provides graduates with the requisite skills and knowledge they need to obtain a job and be a productive (hopefully wealthy) member of society. While we would not deny the goodness of such things, seeing this as the “final cause”—telos, purpose, or “end”—of education is dangerous for students, communities, and the institutions of education. 

The Cardus Education Survey offers a comprehensive picture of how Canada’s graduates are being prepared to take their place in civil society.

For this reason, the current CES report not only provides you with a comprehensive description of Canadian graduates, but also embeds these findings within a narrative of education we believe to be much more holistic than is currently on offer. It is our contention that education is, ultimately, about how well we are able to love our neighbour; that is, education is about building up loving relationships between ourselves and our communities and others with whom we share a common life. Therefore, graduates who exhibit attitudes of empathy and trust as well as habits of volunteering and giving, even if they are not, perhaps, earning as much, are still being well served by their schools and becoming the kind of public-facing Canadians that all schools in Canada hope to cultivate. 

Therefore, the following section hopes to establish a new, more comprehensive narrative about how we might better imagine education in North America today. In some ways it is the manifesto of the Cardus Education program, seeking to articulate how vital education is as an institution in the shared social architecture in which we live. Yet it is also a filter through which we hope you view the data in the following report. This is not, we believe, to skew the data or “spin” it into something positive for some and negative for others, but it is to acknowledge that information outside of a story, data outside of any framing context, cannot be useful in helping schools move forward to any goal. 

THE SOCIAL ARCHITECTURE OF EDUCATION IN CANADA

In the modern world we are pinning our hopes on education to deliver social mobility and personal prosperity, and to sustain public life. That’s why the Washington Post recently estimated the value of the global education market at $4.4 trillion and growing (Strauss 2013). This places a heavy burden on Canada’s schools, and on some measures we might already be failing the next generation. For example, international measures of attainment, such as the PISA rankings together with provincial testing, demonstrate that Canada’s scores in reading, science, and math “have been trending downward for a decade” (Cappon 2014, 16). Business associations in Canada regularly complain about graduates who lack a fundamental work ethic and the basic competency in literacy and numeracy required to function in the workplace (Green, Dijkema, and Van Pelt 2016), yet per-student spending on the government system of education is up by 25.8 percent (when adjustments have been made for inflation) over the last decade in Canada (Clemens, Neven Van Pelt, and Emes 2016). What do we actually know about the educational outcomes associated with the diverse systems of schooling found across the Canadian landscape? 

The Cardus Education Survey furnishes us with a sophisticated reflection on the purpose of education.

The Cardus Education Survey makes three significant contributions to the national conversation about education in Canada. First, because it compares the effects of school sector across a variety of government and non-government schooling systems, the Cardus Education Survey offers a comprehensive picture of how Canada’s graduates are being prepared to take their place in civil society. Second, because it measures cultural, social, political, and religious graduate outcomes, the Cardus Education Survey furnishes us with a sophisticated reflection on the purpose of education and evaluates the extent to which diverse types of school systems fulfil the aims of public education in Canada. Third, because it examines the impact of educational diversity with a particular focus on religious schooling, the Cardus Education Survey is the only national survey commenting on the contribution of graduates from religious and independent schools to the public life of the nation. 

GETTING BEYOND "PUBLIC" EDUCATION

To modern sensibilities “public education” in Canada is often synonymous with “government-run” schools. This was not the assumption of Canada’s founders who enshrined within the Canadian Constitution the right to denominational schooling; nor is it actually the case in contemporary Canada. For example, in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, funded non-government schools are considered part of the provincial systems of education. In 1867 the exercise of democratic pluralism was being worked out in a setting where the majority of the population identified as Christian. In many cases North America’s first settlers had fled sectarian religious persecution. This does not make the underlying principles for liberal education in Canada anachronistic. Far from it. The strength of Canada’s education system is that it rests on a foundation designed to respect local provincial autonomy and protect national religious diversity. This is exactly the kind of balance between local particularities and national requirements required to handle the greater diversity of our modern context. Such balance necessarily relies on a robust definition of public and the ability to guarantee genuine diversity in the education system.

The Cardus Education Survey is the only national survey commenting on the contribution of graduates from religious and independent schools to the public life of the nation.

The tendency to equate “public” with “government” is a symptom of a significant change in attitude toward the function of education and views about the public sphere in Canada. Whereas “public” was once an expansive and exciting space in which to build national identity, govern responsibly, and nurture the maturity of a young nation, today it is increasingly perceived as a dreary threat to our personal freedom and the careful construction of our private identities. John Von Heyking (2015) argues that for many Canadians the public has become a space characterized by unhealthy partisanship where power is perceived to be exercised unreasonably by institutions that regularly infringe on private freedoms. Ironically, the conflation of “public” with “government” may leave us with a much narrower, utilitarian definition of education, in which its primary function is economic growth. To fail to pay attention to the civic, social, and religious outcomes of education is to retreat into the ghetto of a private world where we are no longer required to deal with the unfamiliarity of difference and in which schools no longer need to teach the skills of hospitality to the stranger in our midst (Smith and Carvill 2000). 

To fail to pay attention to the civic, social, and religious outcomes of education is to retreat into the ghetto of a private world where we are no longer required to deal with the unfamiliarity of difference and in which schools no longer need to teach the skills of hospitality to the stranger in our midst (Smith and Carvill 2000).

Independent religious schooling in North America bears the weight of a popular critique regarding its ability to prepare graduates adequately for life in the public square. The charge commonly levied is that attending a religious school contributes to the social isolation and political radicalism of graduates (MacMullen, 2007). Peshkin (1986) argued that evangelical and fundamentalist schools in America hindered the development of the broader social capital and civic values necessary for participating well in democratic institutions. Rose (1988) argued that such schools foster conservative political ideologies antithetical to liberal tolerance (see also Diamond, 1995 and Reese, 1985). With the exception of the Cardus Education Survey there has been little inquiry into the outcomes of independent religious schooling in Canada. Our findings have consistently contrasted popular stereotypes portraying religious schools as ‘promoting socially fragmented, anti-intellectual, politically radical and militantly right-winged lifestyles (Pennings et al., 2011, 5). Canadian philosopher Elmer Thiessen (1993) has responded to these common objections to argue that a pluralistic rather than a state-monopolistic system better prepares graduates for productive citizenship when schools accept the basic ends of liberal education. 

Liberal pluralism requires educational diversity because it rests on the premise that everyone should have equal access to a stake in the public good. Educational institutions are one of the spaces straddling the public and the private in which the self is formed and directed, and where institutional and community life is navigated. It is commonly accepted that the right to universal education under girds freedom in the modern world because equal access to knowledge and influence is “a precondition of equal access to power” (Sacks 2002, 137). Practices of education should protect and contribute to the flourishing of public life without being in direct opposition to the family or the life of a religious community. 

A glance at the aims of government-funded education in Canada is reassuring in this respect. A summary put together in 2012 for the Cardus Education Survey draws on the aims agreed on within Canada’s ten provinces and three territories. This is important because provinces and territories hold their own jurisdiction over education. The following seven aims are under girded by a sense that education exists to prepare students for something greater than their own self-actualization.

Across Canada, public education aims to prepare students to: 

  • Be valuable participants in and contributors to the economy
  • Be informed citizens who value democratic participation and civic engagement
  • Be confident, responsible, self-sufficient adults
  • Be honest, fair, and ethical members of society
  • Contribute to a peaceful, pluralistic, and cohesive society
  • Live personally fulfilled and healthy lives
  • Value further education and life-long learning. (Pennings et al. 2012, 12)

These seven aims promote the kind of reciprocity that makes living life together possible. They suggest that there remains consensus around the idea that reciprocity is an appropriate way to engage in the “public” space. One does not need to be an anarchist anthropologist to agree with David Graeber (2011) that treating friends, family, neighbours, and even strangers strictly on the basis of profit and loss would make life intolerable 

It was common through the 1970s and the first part of the 1980s to argue that educating students of different social, economic, and religious backgrounds in a secularly neutral “public” school was the way to accommodate difference and teach young people to live together (Troyna and Hatcher 1992). The social-contact theory (which maintains that a diverse student body is necessary for cultivating students to live in diverse communities) lies in part behind Canada’s multicultural education project and the “melting pot” of US secular education (Green and Pennings, forthcoming). The problem is that dealing with diversity at this level within the institution works neither philosophically nor practically. Mixed schooling is equally capable of aggravating ethnic, racial, and religious tensions as religious schooling (Shortt and Lenga 2010). In practice government-funded schools in Canada, whether secular or religious, and secular schools in the United States are all vulnerable to structural inequalities and social sorting (Green 2015). 

While it is fashionable to blame this on the influence of libertarian school-choice policies, a considerable part of the reason lies in our superficial view of the “public” and a lack of commitment to growth in all that it takes to love a neighbour. Canadian philosopher of education Elmer Thiessen (1993) argues that we have to recognize that all education indoctrinates and that not all indoctrination is at the expense of individual autonomy. This is especially important if we reject the premise that it is ever possible to adopt a secular and neutral position from which to educate. Respect and tolerance, or love of neighbour, needs to be rooted in authentic growth from within a cultural, religious, and ideological tradition. It is simply not the case, as Signe Sandsmark (2002) has argued, that eschewing confessional approaches in education suggests that all faiths are equal; rather it proposes that all are equally irrelevant. 

CANADA’S PROVINCIAL LANDSCAPE

Education in Canada falls under provincial and territorial jurisdiction; thus Canada’s provinces and territories do not approach educational diversity in the same way. All of them, however, are wrestling with how to provide for quality, parental choice, different religious and ideological values, and the economic demands for a skilled modern workforce (Green and Schoenhoff 2015). The Cardus Education Report is based on a national analysis, that is we do not report provincial findings, but understanding the provincial systems is necessary for understanding the context of schooling in Canada and the sector definitions we use in the report: Public, Separate Catholic, Independent Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, Nonreligious Independent and Religious Home School.

Schooling is compulsory for children between the ages of five or six and sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen, depending on the jurisdiction. This compulsory schooling can be delivered through government or non-government (independent) schooling or in the home (Allison and Van Pelt 2012). The terminology for educational provision across the provinces and territories varies; some jurisdictions refer to non-government schools as private, others as independent. Throughout this report we use the labels “government” and “independent” to distinguish between them (although the government-funded Catholic schools in some provinces are labelled as “separate Catholic” schools). In some provinces and territories, independent schools may be subject to more regulation than others and in receipt of different levels of funding. A brief overview of the contemporary legislative and funding situation in Canada follows. 

The Constitution Act guarantees that the rights to denominational schooling that were in operation when the province entered Confederation in 1867 remain in effect. In Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan, religious minorities (either Catholic or Protestant) continue to have “separate schools,” that is, the right to set up their own schools within a school district; currently in these provinces almost all religious separate schools are Catholic.

Alberta offers a wide range of fully and partially funded schooling options, and since 1994 it has also been the only province to make provision for charter schools. In Alberta 95.6 percent of students attended government schools in 2013-14 (the most recent academic year for which data is available), which included public, separate, francophone, and charter schools—all of which are fully funded (Allison, et al. 2016). Partial funding for independent schools is granted in return for accreditation such as teaching the provincial curriculum and participating in provincial testing and a range of other accountability measures. Up to 70 percent of the provincial per-pupil operating grant of government schools is available, but not infrastructure or maintenance funding; this pays for about 50 percent of the operating expenses of such schools. 

Ontario offers no funding for independent schools. Ninety-four percent of students are enrolled in government schools. Between 2001/2002 and 2013/2014, for which data are available, enrolment in the separate system has been declining (Allison et al., 2016). Enrolment figures for non-government schools in Ontario are difficult to measure accurately because the province requires very little in terms of curriculum compliance or regulatory oversight and does not collect enrolment information (Allison 2015). Recent estimates are that around 6 percent of school-aged students are enrolled in independent schools in Ontario and that half of this enrolment is in religious schools (Allison and Van Pelt 2012). 

The province of Saskatchewan has recently announced education reforms that opened up funding for independent schools. Forty-three of its sixty schools receive some type of financial assistance depending on the level of their registration and accreditation with the provincial education ministry (Gabel 2015). The majority of students, 96.4 percent, are enrolled in government schools including separate (Catholic or Protestant) and French schools. 

British Columbia (BC) entered the Confederation in 1871 but made no special provision for Catholic separate schools. British Columbia has the second highest proportion of enrolments in independent schools after Quebec: 87.7 percent of students are enrolled in government schools (Allison et al. 2016). Over half of BC independent schools are religious, and the 1989 Independent School Act makes provision for varying levels of funding. Depending on compliance with different levels of accountability measures independent schools in BC can receive between 35 and 50 percent of the per-pupil operating grants received by government schools. The largest independent sector in BC is the Catholic system, with an enrolment of almost twenty-two thousand students, which amounts to 27 percent of the overall independent school enrolment (Froese 2015). 

Manitoba eliminated public funding for Catholic schools in 1890, but 90 percent of its independent schools, including denominational schools, receive some public funding. In order to qualify for provincial funding of up to 50 percent of the per-pupil grant, independent schools are required to follow the Manitoba curriculum, employ only Manitoba-certified teachers, and ensure students sit province-wide examinations (Zwaagstra 2015). Manitoba has the third highest proportion of enrolment in independent schools after Quebec and BC and a third of its independent schools are Roman Catholic or Eastern Rite.

The Atlantic provinces do not provide public funding for independent schools, and enrolment in these schools is uniformly low. In New Brunswick, 98.7 percent of students attend government schools, in Nova Scotia the figure is 96.8 percent, on Prince Edward Island it is 98.6 percent, and in Newfoundland and Labrador it is 98.5 percent (Neven Van Pelt, et al. 2015). During the years that our survey respondents attended high school, there was only one independent Protestant Christian high school operating on Prince Edward Island. New Brunswick does not legislate for either the establishment or regulation of independent schools. Derek Allison and Deani Van Pelt (2012) estimate that twenty independent schools operate in the province, accounting for 1 percent of school-aged students; a few of these schools would be Protestant Christian schools. Similarly, a handful of independent schools have been established in Newfoundland and Labrador since 1998, when it replaced its denominational system with a single secular government system.

The Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut all make legislative provision for independent schooling, but there are no such schools currently operating there.  

Quebec has a markedly different history from the rest of Canada’s provinces and territories, and for this reason the Cardus Education Survey does not include the respondents who attended high school in Quebec. These data will be analyzed in a separate report, to be published at a later date. Nevertheless, it is helpful for the larger Canadian context to understand some of the particularities of the provincial system in Quebec. Until 1997 all of its government schools were either Protestant or Catholic. A change in Canada’s Constitution enabled the Quebec government to officially de-confessionalize schools in 2000. Quebec has the highest proportion of students going to independent high schools in North America, the majority of which are Catholic: a third of students attended an independent school in 2013/14 (Allison et al. 201). Schools are subsidized on a per-student basis with most independent schools receiving government funding for operations at a rate equivalent to 60 percent of the amount allotted to government school students (Donovan 2015). For the 2015–2016 school year this amount was $4,392 per student; limits are also set to the tuition amounts that can be charged by independent schools. In return for funding, independent schools in Quebec are subject to legislative restrictions including provincial language-eligibility requirements and full compliance with the ministry of education curriculum, and they must employ teachers who have Quebec ministry of education permits. 

APPROACH TO INQUIRY/METHODOLOGY

The Cardus Education Survey measures the outcomes of graduates from the range of school sectors in North America. It is now in its fourth iteration, alternately reporting findings from the United States and Canada on a two-year cycle. The first Cardus Education report, published in 2011, relied mostly on data from US graduates supplemented by data gathered from school principals and administrators from US and Canadian schools. The study examined the alignment between the motivations and outcomes of Christian education and the graduates from this sector. Findings demonstrated significant differences between the two largest religious school sectors, Catholic and evangelical Protestant schools. While Catholic schools produced much stronger academic outcomes, efforts to instill faith and spirituality did not manifest in young adulthood, whereas evangelical Protestant schools excelled in forming spiritual life and faith but their academic outcomes fell short of other sectors. 

This report was followed in 2012 by the publication of the first round of Canadian outcomes data. The second Cardus Education Survey refuted claims that religious and other independent schools do not prepare students to contribute positively to Canada’s multicultural society. Rather, the study found that graduates of independent schools were at least as likely to be involved in society and culture working toward the common good as their counterparts attending government schools, and in some cases they were doing better. 

In 2014 the third Cardus Education Survey also concluded that on many measures US independent schools are as attentive to the public good as government schools. This report both repeated and extended the sphere of inquiry, including questions on high school experience, occupational directions, and views and practices regarding science and technology. The independent sector reported strong academic outcomes, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) streams and robust social connectedness. We are pleased to be able to report on these areas for Canada’s graduates in this the fourth Cardus Education Survey.

The 2016 Cardus Education Study includes a survey of randomly selected Canadians that was administered by MARU, formerly the Research and Consulting division of Vision Critical. This survey included a large oversample of non-government school graduates that was selected from the MARU Internet panel and from Internet panels of several MARU partners. The random sample was limited to respondents between twenty-three and forty years of age who had graduated from high school. 

Between March 1 and April 30, 2016, respondents completed a forty-five-minute survey that included questions on schooling history and experiences, evaluation of their high school, family background, occupational goals, current education and occupation, marriage and family, religious and spiritual involvement, and civic and political engagement. In order to make the survey instrument comparable to the US sample of the Cardus Education Study, several questions were replicated from the Knowledge Networks profile and public affairs surveys, which were asked of the US respondents to the Cardus Education Survey.

The distribution of English-speaking, non-government high school respondents in the analysis is as follows:

  • 540 Public 
  • 428 Separate Catholic 
  • 76 Independent Catholic 
  • 88 Evangelical Protestant 
  • 138 Nonreligious Independent 
  • 57 Religious Home-School

The size of each of the non-government schooling groups is modest, but adequate for most of our purposes. Note that the non-government schooling oversample is unique relative to other surveys, since all of the non-government sectors likely account for approximately 8 percent of high school students in Canada. The resulting data set was analyzed using nested regression analyses to predict outcomes related to socio-economic status, personality and mental health, and pro-social attitudes and behaviour, including volunteer, civic engagement, and political participation. The model controls for demographic variables and family background characteristics in order to isolate and report, wherever possible, school effects. In other words, our report compares “apples with apples” (i.e. school sector effect) by isolating out other factors which we know will also effect student outcomes. For a quick guide on how to read the data used in these report, please consult appendix A. Fuller details of the methodology for this study can be found in appendix B.

SECTION ONE: Work and Education After Secondary School 

The most common way to measure graduate success today focuses on where they live, what they do for work, how much money they earn and save, and the highest level of education or accreditation they have attained. Such things are easily tracked and measured, and we cannot deny that this data provides an important snapshot of graduate outcomes from each school sector year after year. Economic stability, rootedness to a community, meaningful work, and the attainment of further accreditation and skills are all good things that allow individuals, communities, and societies to thrive. And when we control the data to isolate for school effect, such snapshots reveal how each school sector encourages or, possibly, inhibits such flourishing. 

But we should also remember that such data does not provide the whole picture. Not at all. While location, mobility, income, savings, and educational attainment are all important variables to track and measure in a graduate’s life, these are not—as was laid out in the introduction—ultimately what a good education is for. And the conflation of a greater quantity of money, status, and accreditation with a greater quality of life and, therefore, a greater school creates its own set of problems. UK sociologist of education Stephen Ball (2003) refers to this as the culture of “performativity.” The current overemphasis on such performance outcomes is often under girded by the very utilitarian approach to education that we call into question. How, for instance, does sacrificing time to volunteer or joining a community organization fit into such a utilitarian metric of success? 

Therefore, we carefully caution that this initial section be read as one piece within the full context of the entire Cardus Education Survey. The remaining sections of this report will unpack a whole host of other important aspects of graduate outcomes that are not always deemed as important—habits of home and family life, engagement with civil society, practices of giving, cultivation of friendships, and more. The outcomes you’ll find in the remainder of this survey are often seen as secondary or negligible. However, we encourage you to regard them as equally important. In fact, these other variables give a much better picture of how graduates have—or have not—been formed by their schools to use whatever material assets they’ve acquired in service to their neighbours, their broader communities, and the common good. 

PUBLIC 

Since the majority of Canadians attend public schools, they set the baseline against which all the other sectors are compared, and the commonest narrative of Canadian graduates today since they represent the largest school sector by a wide margin within Canada. The story you’ll read about these graduates is the case for more Canadians than it is not. 

When it comes to their connections to place, public-school graduates have spent as much time, on average, in their current residence as other graduates (5, 6), but are less geographically mobile—that is, move to cities different from those in which they grew up—than evangelical Protestant graduates (7). (The reason for this remains unclear, but we provide some speculation below under the “Evangelical Protestant” section.)

Regarding work, we find no differences by sector in terms of the likelihood of being employed. 

Public-school graduates are no more likely to be in professional or managerial positions than their peers from every other school sector (18).

In terms of education, graduates from public schools will have obtained more years of school than religious homeschool graduates, but less than nonreligious independent school graduates (21). More particularly, public-school graduates are less likely to have a college degree than are graduates of separate Catholic, nonreligious independent, and evangelical Protestant schools.

Overall, in terms of educational attainment, public-school graduates are less likely to hold a bachelor’s degree than are graduates from separate Catholic and nonreligious independent schools.

SEPARATE CATHOLIC 

Separate Catholic school graduates are no more likely than nonreligious public-school graduates to be geographically mobile (7) and also no more likely than them to remain in one location (5, 6). 

When it comes to their work, separate Catholic school graduates are statistically as likely as public-school graduates to be out of work or in a parttime job (13, 14), and also just as likely to be in full-time employment (15) or in a professional or managerial role (18). A notable finding is that these graduates do tend to have higher incomes than their public-school counterparts (19). 

Separate Catholic school graduates acquire slightly more years of education than public school graduates (21). They are also more likely than public school graduates to obtain education after secondary school (22) and complete a bachelor’s degree (25), although no more likely to finish an MA or PhD (26, 27). 

Overall, graduates of separate Catholic schools, on average, have higher incomes and a higher likelihood of having completed a bachelor’s degree than public-school graduates.

CATHOLIC INDEPENDENT 

Graduates of Catholic independent schools are slightly less likely than public-school graduates to live in rural environments (4). The reason for this is unclear, but may be due to the locations of Catholic independent schools throughout Canada, which are primarily in British Columbia and Manitoba. 

When it comes to work, the Catholic independent school graduates are just as likely as other graduates to be fully employed (12/13) and to be in managerial and professional roles (18). 

Regarding their total years of education, these graduates are statistically similar to public-school graduates (21). And there is no statistical evidence that suggests they are any more likely than public-school graduates to obtain a college degree, a bachelor’s, master’s, or a doctorate (22–28).

In terms of their overall performance, the Catholic independent sector graduate has no real reasons to believe that he or she is any less equipped than a public-school graduate to find work or attain educational credentials after secondary school.

NONRELIGIOUS INDEPENDENT 

Some of the common assumptions about graduates from nonreligious independent schools are that they are more likely than public school graduates to have higher levels of accreditation, job status, and income, and our findings largely bear this out, with a few important distinctions. In terms of where they reside, these graduates are no more likely to be geographically mobile than public-school graduates (7), and are also as likely to live in their current places for the same amount of time as public-school graduates; in other words, they are as rooted to a place as other graduates. (5, 6) 

Perhaps contrary to common assumptions, our findings reveal that nonreligious independent school graduates are just as likely as the public-school graduates to have full-time (15) work and to be in professional or managerial positions (18). However, they have significantly higher incomes than public-school graduates (19). 

As for schooling, these graduates are significantly more likely to have more years of education than public-school graduates (21), being the least likely to end their education at the secondary level (22) or even the college level (23), pursuing a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate instead (24- 27). This is likely due to the access such students have to higher education and the networking potential these schools possess, in addition to strong curriculum and the community expectations and support systems.

Overall, graduates of the nonreligious independent sector are, as may be expected, significantly more likely to obtain years of education and degrees after secondary school and are significantly more likely to earn a greater income than public-school graduates despite being just as likely to find full-time work or positions in management.

EVANGELICAL PROTESTANT 

The graduates of evangelical Protestant schools are much more geographically mobile than their peers from public schools (7). They are not only likely to be living in their current houses for a shorter period of time, but they are also much more likely to change cities than public-school graduates (8). Reasons for this are not entirely clear, but the dislocation of seeking out post-secondary institutions with similar religious affiliations may be one reason. This mobility might also be tied to job availability. What this does show is that these graduates are not sequestered into their religious communities surrounded by members of family and church, but are quite likely to be transplanted into new areas of the country and the world.

Our findings reveal no statistical difference for evangelical Protestant school graduates finding work in their adult lives than graduates from public schools (12, 14, 15). 

In terms of their likely occupation, these graduates are also more likely than graduates from the public school sector in finding managerial or professional roles (17). Yet their incomes are statistically the same as those of public-school graduates (19). 

Evangelical Protestant school graduates are similar to public-school graduates when it comes to post-secondary educational attainment (22).

RELIGIOUS HOMESCHOOL

Religious homeschool graduates report no real distinctions from public-school graduates in terms of where they live and their mobility. These graduates are just as likely to be employed full time (15), and also just as likely to be in managerial or professional positions (18). They also report incomes equal to those from the public school sector. (19) 

These graduates report having fewer years of education beyond high school than public-school graduates (21) and are significantly more likely than graduates of either public or nonreligious independent schools to end their formal education after high school (22). 

Overall, religious homeschool graduates do achieve lower levels of education and are more likely to end their education at the secondary level than are public-school graduates.

CONCLUSION 

In these brief snapshots, we get a first glimpse at Canadian graduates from the range of school sectors in Canada. We see that the majority of Canadians, who are educated in public schools, are more likely to have lower incomes than their peers and a lower likelihood to receive a university degree than graduates from the nonreligious independent school sector, yet they are just as likely to be employed and in positions of management as all their peers. Separate Catholic school graduates are likely to earn higher incomes than public-school graduates and are more likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Catholic independent school graduates are almost indistinguishable from public-school graduates when it comes to post-secondary credentials and the likelihood of finding work. As might be expected, nonreligious independent school graduates do make more money than public school graduates and are significantly more likely to obtain post-secondary degrees; however, they are no more likely to be working full time or in positions of management. Graduates from evangelical Protestant schools are much more likely to be geographically mobile than public school graduates, and while they are more likely to obtain managerial positions, they are no more likely to be employed or to attain post-secondary credentials. Finally, the religious homeschool graduates are indistinguishable from public school graduates when it comes to the likelihood of being employed and the size of their income; however, they are less likely to attain post-secondary degrees. 

While this is just the first part of a much broader picture, some of the contours are already clear. Nonreligious independent schools seem to be much better at cultivating graduates who achieve high incomes and education while the religious homeschool graduates seem to be less successful, at least when it comes to educational attainment after high school. Yet if the public school creates the standard against which all are measured, then the majority of independent schools are doing just as well, if not better, than the public sector in developing graduates who are able to work and thrive in Canada after their high school years.

SECTION TWO: Social Relationships and Personal Goals

While section 1 provides a small snapshot of the external attainments of Canadian graduates across school sectors, it is hard from such information alone to get a sense of what kind of people they have become in their time since secondary school. That is, simply by knowing the likelihood that a graduate will earn a high (or a low) income or attain a college degree or a doctorate does not provide any insight into his or her character and lived reality. The following sections will all work together to flesh out these “profiles,” but section 2 is particularly important since it narrows in on the lives young adult Canadians live today. It looks at their current family dynamics, current and past relationship statuses, their number of children, and the routines of their home. Do they eat together? Pray, read the Bible, or even talk about God together? The answers to these questions will likely surprise some. This section also looks at the hopes and dreams of graduates concerning work. Are they motivated by creativity? Better networks? God’s call? A good income? Again, the findings are not all what one might expect. Finally, this section looks at the company that graduates from various school sectors keep. Not only is this data interesting in a world where social isolation is perceived to be on the rise (de Jong Gierveld et al. 2006), but in terms of education that helps us to better love our neighbours, the diversity and range (or lack thereof) of close relationships is a tell-tale sign for how well or how poorly the various school sectors have cultivated students to share their lives with others who are different.

PUBLIC 

FAMILY LIFE

The first intriguing finding in the 2016 data is that there are no statistical differences between the school sectors regarding the likelihood of being divorced or separated (40); however, public-school graduates are more likely to be married than separate Catholic school graduates while being less likely than the evangelical Protestants (39). Another interesting finding is that public school graduates are more likely to cohabitate than graduates from all the independent sectors except the evangelical Protestant (44). Yet in terms of marital satisfaction, they report being more satisfied than either Catholic independent or separate Catholic school graduates, and just as satisfied as the others (45). Public-school graduates have significantly fewer children than graduates of Catholic independent schools, but are on par with graduates of other sectors. (46)

Not surprisingly, these graduates are less likely than graduates from nonreligious independent and the graduates of religious independent schools to have a child in an independent school (48), indicating that parents tend to support the educational sector they attended. 

We find significant distinctions between graduates of public and independent schools in terms of time spent together at home. Public-school graduates eat meals together as a family less frequently than do graduates of nonreligious independent, evangelical Protestant, and separate Catholic schools (49), and pray as a family less often than do graduates of all other sectors (50). In addition, we find that graduates of all types of religious schooling environments talk about God and read the Bible together more often than do public school graduates. 

ASPIRATIONS, ORIENTATIONS, AND SATISFACTION

The most noticeable sector differences when it comes to goals regarding work are between graduates of public schools and those of religious homeschool environments. Public-school graduates are more likely than religious homeschool graduates (but no other sector) to want a job that directly helps others (60), provides the chance to make friends (62), is worthwhile to society (63), and helps to establish community roots (64). They are also more likely to value work that provides the chance for creativity (61) and a good income (65) than religious homeschool graduates and the evangelical Protestant graduates. However, we find no school-sector differences when it comes to desiring work that fulfils any sort of religious calling (66). 

More so than nonreligious independent school graduates, they report feeling helpless in dealing with life problems (69) and report feeling that life often lacks clear goals or a sense of direction (70). 

Overall, there are no school-sector differences when it comes to satisfaction levels with a whole range of areas: including hobbies and non-work activities (73), family life (74), friendships (75), and health (76). There is no school sector effect that notes any significant differences on satisfaction, yet it is important to note that public school graduates are more likely than religious homeschool and separate Catholic graduates to report being thankful for much in their lives (71).

SEPARATE CATHOLIC 

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY 

Graduates from the separate Catholic sector are the only ones less likely than public school graduates to identify as heterosexual or straight (37), and are also less likely than public-sector graduates to be married (38). Family size is similar between graduates of both sectors (46); yet while they are less likely than public school graduates to report being married (38) or to cohabitate (44), overall, they do report a lower satisfaction with their marriages than those from the public schools (45). The reason for this is unclear, but may be due to higher expectations placed on marriage by the Catholic community. 

Evangelical Protestant school graduates are actively part of civic life to the same extent as their peers from public schools.

While the 2012 Cardus Education Survey noted many similarities between separate Catholic and public school graduates, it is well worth noting that in terms of daily habits, separate Catholic school graduates reveal some significant distinctions that may be an encouragement to Catholic families whose children attend the separate Catholic school sector. Our findings reveal that they are more likely to eat a meal together as a family (49), to pray together (50), to talk about God (51), and to read the Bible together (52) than their peers who attended public schools. 

ASPIRATIONS, ORIENTATIONS, AND SATISFACTION

When looking for work, separate Catholic school graduates desire a job that directly helps others (60), provides them a chance to make friends (62), is worthwhile to society (63), and allows them to stay rooted to a place (64). In these regards they are no different from public-school graduates. 

There is nothing by way of satisfaction, whether it be for (72) where they live, (73), family (74), friends (75), or health (76), that distinguish them from public school graduates. Despite this, they are less likely to report having much for which to be thankful (71). 

The graduates’ close ties reveal that graduates of separate schools are just as closely tied to people who do not share their religious convictions as graduates from the public sector (100, 102). This finding suggests that perhaps they are embedded into their communities and do not exist in siloed para-communities as graduates of other sectors (namely, the nonreligious independent and homeschool sectors) appear to be. Overall, the data suggest that these graduates are no more siloed than the graduates of public schools.

Overall, there is no significant difference between separate Catholic and public school graduates in terms of their close social ties. 

 CATHOLIC INDEPENDENT 

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY

As noted above, there is little variation between school sectors on how people report their sexual orientation (37). These graduates are also no more likely to be married than public school graduates (40) and are also as likely to currently be divorced (43). They are, however, less likely to cohabitate (44). Graduates from this school sector are marked by having significantly more children per family than public school graduates (46), and, perhaps as expected, they are slightly more likely to have a child in an independent school (48). Like separate Catholic school graduates, Catholic independent school graduates report lower levels of satisfaction with their marriages than public school graduates (45), which again might be due to higher expectations of marriage cultivated in the Catholic-school community or due to the larger families. 

When it comes to the habits of home, Catholic independent school graduates report a strong set of daily routines that would likely reinforce family and worship life. When compared to the public-school baseline, they pray together (50), talk about God (51), and read the Bible together (52) more frequently. Catholic independent school graduates appear to integrate religion into family life to a higher degree.

ASPIRATIONS, ORIENTATIONS, AND SATISFACTION

In terms of the types of jobs to which Canadians aspire, Catholic independent school graduates are not that distinct from the public-sector graduates. They aspire to find work that roots them to their community (64), allows them to be creative (61), provides a good income (65), helps others (60), is deemed worthwhile to society (63), and even fulfils a religious calling (66) to the same degree as public-school graduates. 

As noted earlier, there are no school-sector differences when it comes to satisfaction levels with a whole range of areas, including hobbies and nonwork activities (73), family life (74), friendships (75), and health (76). In terms of overall satisfaction, there is no school sector or family effect that notes any significant differences. 

SOCIAL TIES

It is worth noting that when asked to list their closest social ties, graduates of Catholic independent schools nominated fewer close ties than did public school graduates (79), yet most of the characteristics of their close ties are similar, with the exception that the Catholic independent graduate is more likely to have close ties with someone of a different race (114). Overall, graduates of Catholic independent schools mention fewer social ties, but are more likely to have confidence in the ties that they do name (112), and generally have a more diverse set of close ties than public-school graduates. 

NONRELIGIOUS INDEPENDENT

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY

Nonreligious independent school graduates are more likely than public school graduates to have ever divorced (43). There is no clear reason why this school sector might have this kind of impact on marriages; however, there is the possibility that relatively higher incomes does allow individuals easier access to independence from unhealthy or unhappy relationships. 

Family size is comparable to the public sector, but these graduates are also much more likely to send their children to an independent school (48), again reinforcing the expectation that independent graduates tend to promote the independent school sector. 

A brief snapshot of some daily routines reveals that these graduates are more likely than public school graduates to eat their meals together (49) and also more likely to pray together (50) than the average public school graduate. In fact, when it comes to prayer (55) and talking about God in the home (54), the nonreligious independent school graduates are more likely to do either of these than the public-school graduate. The higher commitment to integrating religion and family is intriguing here. This may indicate which graduates have more discretionary time together, but it may also be more of a story about the public-schoolers, who appear to be socialized in a way that dampens integration of religion and family.

ASPIRATION, ORIENTATIONS, AND SATISFACTION

In regard to the desires and aspirations of nonreligious independent school graduates, they are more likely than public school graduates to seek a job that gives them a chance to make friends (62). The reasons for this may be connected to a stronger desire to see work in terms of cultivating potential networks. Well-paying jobs (65) that are worthwhile to society (63) and allow for rootedness to a community (64) are all important for these graduates, but are no more likely to motivate their rationale for working than they are for public school graduates. 

These graduates are the most self-assured, reporting a much lower degree of helplessness in dealing with life’s problems (69) or confusion about their own goals and direction in life (70) than public school graduates. 

Whether it’s satisfaction with the place they live (72), their hobbies (73), their family life (74), or most of all their friendships (75), there is no distinction between them and public-school graduates. 

Nonreligious independent school graduates report having as many close friends as public school graduates (80). However, their close ties indicate a certain homogeneity within the peer group, particularly in terms of education and status. They are, in fact, far and away more likely to have friends with university degrees than public school graduates (98). They are more likely than a public school graduate to know a corporate executive (117) or a community leader (118). These graduates, more than their peers, are very well connected, which is a finding that one would expect. 

EVANGELICAL PROTESTANT 

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY 

Evangelical Protestant school graduates are more likely than public school graduates to be married today (38), but just as likely to be divorced (43) or to cohabitate (44). Of course, one possible reason for this finding is that due to their higher likelihood of getting married, there is also a higher likelihood of getting divorced or separated; in other words, if you never get married you will never get divorced. Therefore, the fact that their divorce rates are equal to public school graduates while their marriage rates are higher does suggest that, overall, the graduates from evangelical Protestant schools are as likely to divorce when measured against a sector of graduates who are increasingly cohabiting instead of getting married. 

Overall, evangelical Protestant school graduates are no more likely to report marital satisfaction than are public school graduate (45), nor is their family size significantly different than those of public school graduates (46). Again, as might be expected, they, like other independent school graduates, are much more likely than public school graduates to have their child in an independent school as well (48). 

They are more likely than public school graduates to share meals together (56), pray together (55), and talk about God (54). 

ASPIRATIONS, ORIENTATIONS, AND SATISFACTION

These graduates are much less likely to care about being creative in their work than public school graduates (61), which is a finding consistent with earlier CES data in 2012. A job that is “well paying” is also less of a priority for these graduates when compared to public school graduates (65). While they seek work that helps others (60) and is worthwhile to society (63) to the same degree as public school graduates, they are, as might be expected, slightly more inclined to aspire to work that fulfils a religious calling than public school graduates (66).

Regarding personal satisfaction, evangelical Protestant school graduates do report similar levels of satisfaction (77) in the places they live (72), their hobbies (73), their family life (74), their friendships (75), and their health (76) as the public school graduates.

Evangelical Protestant school graduates report having a greater number of close ties than public school graduates, but only by a slight margin (79). Evangelical Protestant school graduates’ close ties are just as likely as the public school graduates’ ties to be a family member (84) or parent (87) as a co-worker (91). They are also no more likely to have close ties that share their religion than public school graduates (100), which goes against the expectation that religious school graduates have highly encapsulated networks. However, they are still less likely to have an atheist as a close tie (104) while being much more likely to have close ties with those who attend a religious service (106). These graduates are also just as likely to have friends of another race as their peers from public schools (114). In terms of their social capital, these individuals are just as likely to know an elected public official (116) or a community leader (118) or a corporate executive (117) as public school graduates. Overall, while there is evidence of some religious encapsulation with the evangelical Protestant school graduates, there are many similarities with the public school graduates, indicating that encapsulation is not as strong of an identifier for these graduates as might be expected.

RELIGIOUS HOMESCHOOL 

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY 

While religious homeschool graduates are no more likely to be currently married than the public school graduates (39), they are significantly less likely to cohabitate outside of marriage (44) yet just as likely to have divorced (43). Marital satisfaction is similar to the public school baseline (45).

 The home-life data suggests that the religious homeschoolers families’ devotional and communal habits are generally stronger than their peers who attended public schools. While they eat together as frequently (49), they pray together (50), talk about God (51), and read the Bible (52) with much more frequency than public school graduates.

(A statistic that is not reported in the other sectors, but bears mentioning here, is that these graduates are much more likely to embody more “traditional” gender roles, where the man is the primary breadwinner and the woman is the primary caregiver (57). They also report a statistically greater likelihood of maintaining the belief that a “wife should give in to her husband” than the other sectors, although the evangelical Protestant and Catholic independent graduates are close (58), which does reveal how traditional values are maintained by and within these communities.) 

ASPIRATIONS, ORIENTATIONS, AND SATISFACTION

Religious homeschool graduates are less likely than public school graduates to aspire to work that directly helps others (60), provides them the chance of being creative (61), helps them make new friends (62), is considered worthwhile to society (63), allows them to remain rooted to a community (64), or even pays well (65). It is noteworthy that they are significantly lower in all of these categories, which suggests a different focus on work being cultivated in religious homeschools. Also, these graduates are no more likely than public school graduates to look for work that fulfils a religious calling (66). 

Religious homeschool graduates also report feeling helpless in dealing with life’s problems to the same degree as their peers in the public school (69). In addition, homeschool graduates are also less likely to identify as being thankful for what they have in life (71). 

In terms of satisfaction in various areas (see above), they are no different from the public school sector. 

When it comes to their close ties, these graduates are just as likely as public school graduates to report that they are closest to their family members (83). However, they are less likely to have a co-worker (91) or a high school classmate (perhaps for obvious reasons) (96) as a close tie. They are also less likely to have close ties with university degrees (98). Overall, the graduate of religious homeschool is the most likely to have a homogenous set of close ties, being much more likely than public school graduates to have close ties who share their religion (100), have the same religious beliefs (102), attend religious services (106), and actually attend the same congregation as the respondent (108). Again, this can be framed as a very positive form of strong social bonding. However, it might also be a reason for concern if these graduates are not developing close ties from within the broader social fabric. 

These graduates, though, despite the previous data which reveal them to be cloistered, are just as likely as any to know a public official (116), and actually more likely to know a corporate executive (117). These findings may challenge the tightness of their religious encapsulation, but do suggest that they are possibly more active at local community levels. 

CONCLUSION

One of the most intriguing findings is that across the school sectors, we find there no significant differences in the likelihood of ever having had a divorce or a separation. However, as was the case with evangelical Protestant graduates, a higher marriage rate than public school graduates would lead us to believe there would be a correlating higher divorce rate. But we do not find this: the divorce rates are the same as the graduates from other sectors who have a much lower marriage rate. 

The school sector does seem to play an influential role in some of the habits in various graduates’ homes. Overall, graduates from every school sector were more likely than public school graduates to eat together, read the Bible and pray together, and to talk about God. 

Regarding aspirations for work, evangelical Protestants (again) reported being less motivated by creativity than public school graduates. Nonreligious independent graduates sought work where they could make friends (or possibly network). Again, the school sectors were similar here, even in terms of finding work that fulfilled a religious calling; there was little distinction between the religious and nonreligious school sectors in how they measured against the public standard.

Finally, in terms of social ties, the findings bear out that there is a diversity of ties in most graduates’ lives. Nonreligious independent school graduates do show some encapsulation by having an increased likelihood of friends who are university graduates. Religious homeschool graduates are the most likely to have friends with similar religious views, which is another form of encapsulation. Overall, however, the other religious independent sectors produce graduates with a diversity of social ties in and outside of religious communities

SECTION THREE: In (X) We Trust

For some time now, Canadian scholars have noted an erosion of trust and confidence at almost all levels of culture and society (Von Heyking 2015). Whether it’s big banks or big government, mass media or mass migrations, trust—the bedrock of civil society—seems to be in a bad way. Yet trust is not first and foremost a civic virtue: underlying trust is often faith, hope, and yes, even charity. Whether graduates approach their neighbours and their public institutions with suspicion or trust should be of concern to members from all school sectors hoping to cultivate students who are not simply wage earners or even family members, but active and engaged members of a neighbourhood, a community, a city, a province, and a nation (Bradshaw 2015). Unfortunately, the 2016 CES data does not clearly distinguish between suspicion and healthy critique, nor between trust and naïve assent. Nevertheless, how graduates of each sector compare with each other regarding trust and distrust tells an important story about the current state of our social architecture, and even points toward areas wherein improvements might be needed so that trust can be restored. The results reported in this section are based on questions gauging respondents’ perceptions of how well they fit in to the broader culture, that is, if society is hospitable or hostile to their way of life. While it is beyond the scope of this report to affirm or reject respondents’ claims, their perceptions are important to keep in mind when we turn to the next section on political and civic engagement. 

**Just a quick note to help you read this section. You’ll notice that respondents were asked questions about “trust” and questions about “confidence.” While this may seem like one of those academic distinctions without a difference, the difference between these terms for the report is that “trust” refers to an interpersonal level (e.g., What can x do for me?), while “confidence” refers to the institutional and societal level (e.g., what can x do for the common good?).** 

PUBLIC

Graduates from public schools have an intriguing narrative against which graduates from all other school sectors can be measured. To start, these graduates trust people in general to the same degree as all other graduates (excepting the religious homeschool graduates, who are marginally less trusting) (123). They are also just as likely as all their peers to trust neighbours (124) and co-workers (126). In addition, they trust strangers to the same degree as all religious independent sector graduates (127). While more trusting of the federal government than religious homeschool graduates, they are less trusting than graduates of Catholic independent schools, the reason for which is unclear (128). What is likely not a surprise is that these graduates display significantly higher levels of trust for public school teachers and administrators than religious homeschool graduates (130). They also trust the mass media (129) to the same degree as their peers, again, excepting religious homeschool graduates. 

The confidence these graduates have in institutions when measured against their peers is perhaps only a story because there seems to be no story. That is, whether it’s confidence in companies (133), media (138), TV (140), the Federal Parliament (143), the armed forces (144), or banks (145), there is no statistically significant difference in confidence levels among peer groups. Yet the real differences in confidence are more apparent in regard to confidence in religion; in fact, public school graduates display the lowest confidence in religion of most sectors, excepting the religious homeschool graduates and nonreligious independent school graduates, who are on par with them (134). (This may provide some context for the more distrustful attitudes about the “dominant culture” that the religious and independent schools have, a finding reported below.) 

Yet despite lower confidence in religion than other graduates, it is a very positive sign that public school graduates are just as likely as any group to believe it is not all right to say things that are publicly offensive to religious groups (146) and maintain that society should be a place tolerant to non-Christian religions (147). This group does not see the dominant Canadian culture as hostile to their views any more than evangelical Protestant and Catholic independent schools, although they are less suspicious than religious homeschool graduates, and more suspicious than nonreligious independent school graduates (148). 

Yet despite lower confidence in religion than other graduates, it is a very positive sign that public school graduates are just as likely as any group to believe it is not all right to say things that are publicly offensive to religious groups (146) and maintain that society should be a place tolerant to non-Christian religions (147). This group does not see the dominant Canadian culture as hostile to their views any more than evangelical Protestant and Catholic independent schools, although they are less suspicious than religious homeschool graduates, and more suspicious than nonreligious independent school graduates (148). 

SEPARATE CATHOLIC 

Separate Catholic school graduates have very few statistical differences from public school graduates. They trust other people (123), neighbours (124), co-workers (126), the federal government (128), mass media (129), and public school teachers (130) to the same extent as public school graduates. They also trust strangers as much as public school graduates (127), and are just as open as public school graduates to trusting people who don’t believe in God (132). 

Their confidence in companies (133), education (135), labour unions (137), media (138), TV (140), the scientific community (142), and the armed forces (144) is similar to that of public school graduates. However, they are more likely to have confidence in religion than are public school graduates (134). 

These graduates are no different from public school graduates when it comes to their beliefs on saying offensive things about religious groups in public (146), which is a sign that graduates from separate Catholic and public schools value tolerance to the same degree.

CATHOLIC INDEPENDENT 

These graduates, again, are statistically similar to graduates of other sectors when it comes to whom and what they trust. They trust other people (123), neighbours (124), co-workers (126), mass media (129), and even public school teachers and administrators (130) to the same extent as their peers. 

Along with evangelical Protestant, Catholic independent, and nonreligious independent school graduates, they are far more likely to have confidence in religion (134) than are public school graduates. Yet for all other types of trust measured, they are similar to their public school peers. 

They are just as likely as public school graduates to be of the opinion that society needs to tolerate non-Christian religions (147). Along these lines, these graduates are also just as convinced as public school graduates that the dominant Canadian culture is hostile to their values (148). 

NONRELIGIOUS INDEPENDENT 

Nonreligious independent school graduates are similar to public school graduates in many areas of trust, but are slightly more likely to trust strangers (127) and scientists (131). 

The same holds for their confidence in public institutions; while similar to the public school graduates in many areas, they are more likely to have confidence in the prime minister and federal cabinet (136), the Supreme Court (141), and the scientific community (142). These graduates also display a slightly higher likelihood of being confident in religion (134) than public school graduates. 

Nonreligious independent school graduates are just as likely as public school graduates to endorse society’s becoming more tolerant of non-Christian religions (147), and much less likely than graduates of public schools to believe that the dominant Canadian culture is hostile to their values (148). 

EVANGELICAL PROTESTANT 

Evangelical Protestant school graduates are fairly similar to graduates of public schools when it comes to trust. They trust other people (123), neighbours (124), co-workers (126), the federal government (128), and mass media (129) to the same degree as their peers from public schools. However, they are much more likely than public school graduates to trust those within their own religious congregation (125). They are just as likely to trust people who don’t believe in God (132). 

Like Catholic independent, separate Catholic, and nonreligious independent school graduates, they are more likely than the public school graduates to have confidence in religion (134). In other ways measured in the Cardus Education Survey, evangelical Protestant and public school graduates have similar levels of trust. 

They are just as likely as public school graduates to believe that society needs to be more tolerant of non-Christians (147). They are also just as likely as public school graduates to view the dominant culture as being hostile to their values (148), which may be read as an encouraging sign for educators of this sector since this challenges the stereotype that evangelical Protestants feel like a minority within the dominant culture. At least the survey data show that they feel the same about the dominant culture’s hostility towards them as the public school graduates. 

RELIGIOUS HOMESCHOOL 

While most of the findings for the other school sectors tell a story by not having a real story (that is, having no real distinct differences from one another can be its own kind of distinction), the religious homeschool graduate is, for better or worse, marked by lower levels of trust and confidence in numerous areas. It will be worth bearing these factors in mind particularly when we turn in sections 7 and 8 to public life and science, because they are helpful in connecting attitudes with behaviours. 

Religious homeschool graduates trust people in general less than public school graduates (123). They are less likely to trust the federal government (128), mass media (129), and public school teachers and administrators (130) than are public school graduates. They are also less likely to trust scientists (131) and people who don’t believe in God (132) compared with graduates of public schools. Since broad social networks often engender trust, these findings could be either a signal of or a result of fairly shallow or homogenous social networks among these graduates.

The evangelical Protestant sector is managing to cultivate graduates with a healthy sense of love for their neighbour in a manner that influences behaviour well past the secondary school years.

While their confidence in religion is equal to the public school baseline (134), they are much less likely than public school graduates to have confidence in education (135), the prime minister and federal cabinet (136), labour unions (137), the Supreme Court (141), and the scientific community (142).

They are less likely than public school graduates, by a rather significant margin, to believe society should tolerate non-Christian religions (147), and they are quite likely to believe that the dominant Canadian culture is hostile to their values (148). Finally, given their low trust and confidence, it will come as little surprise that they are less likely than public school graduates to believe the federal government should not do more to solve social problems (150), indicating that their trust is likely to be found in more local, small-scale institutions. 

CONCLUSION 

If trust forms the bedrock of a multicultural and flourishing society, then the Canadian school sectors are, religious homeschool excepted, doing an equal job of cultivating similar levels of trust in a whole host of institutions and organizations. The only outlier in our findings was the levels of trust from religious homeschool graduates, who were less likely to trust media, government, and a host of other institutions needed for our common life. They were also more likely to see the dominant culture as hostile toward them, which may be a strong reason for their lower levels of trust. The findings, then, reveal that the majority of independent schools are cultivating in their graduates the same degree of trust, while there is work to do on this front for the religious homeschool graduates.

SECTION FOUR: Religious Orientation 

This section discusses questions asked about the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours that all members of Canadian society—religious or otherwise—are concerned about. Particularly when we look at which obligations are priorities for graduates (and which are not) we get a better sense of the type of character and behaviours these graduates possess years after their secondary education. 

That the public school graduate prays the rosary, views divorce as morally wrong, or witnesses to a friend less than graduates of Catholic independent or evangelical Protestant schools is likely expected and in keeping with Reginald Bibby’s major sociological critique of religion in Canada (Bibby 2011). Bibby chronicles the major polarization in religious beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours between those Canadians socialized and educated within the traditions of religious communities and those who are not. 

Yet this section might be of particular interest for religious communities wondering: Is there anything that going to a religious school does toward confirming religious practices? While the data reveals that family is likely a greater influence on most of these measures, school sector still plays a large part. This matters because communities who understand that education is not just about attaining knowledge in a utilitarian way, but about cultivating values, character, and habits, will be interested to understand how well (or how poorly) each educational sector does in this regard. 

NONRELIGIOUS INDEPENDENT AND PUBLIC 

In this section we have grouped nonreligious independent and public together because there is statistically no difference regarding school sector when it comes to the religious orientations, beliefs, behaviours, and attitudes of these graduates. This in itself is a finding worth noting. (Also, it is worth mentioning here that graduates from separate Catholic schools are indeed more similar to the public and nonreligious independent school graduates in this area, but contain enough distinctions to receive separate treatment below.) 

When comparing averages across all three religious independent sectors—religious homeschool, evangelical Protestant, and Catholic independent—public and nonreligious independent graduates are less likely than those from religious schools to attend religious services regularly (161), to read the Bible (217), and more generally to observe regular spiritual disciplines (191). 

Public and nonreligious independent school graduates are also less likely to try and strengthen their relationship with God (168), to give 10 percent (or tithe) (192), or to pray alone (209) than evangelical Protestant graduates and religious homeschool graduates. Similarly, public school graduates are less likely to go to confession (210) and pray the rosary (211) than all others. 

Regarding religious beliefs, public and nonreligious independent school graduates are less likely than the graduates of the religious independent sectors to believe God is a personal being involved in people’s lives (165) or to obey the church’s authority (195). They are less likely than evangelical Protestant school and religious homeschool graduates to make moral decisions using Scripture (156), believe the Bible is infallible (203), and believe they have an obligation to their churches (194) and that salvation comes from Jesus Christ (201). 

These graduates are also more likely than religious homeschool or evangelical Protestant graduates to maintain that religion is private and should be kept out of social and political issues (151) (Catholic independent school graduates were not distinct here). Finally, these graduates are less likely to view cohabitation (153), premarital sex (154), and gay marriage (155) as morally wrong than are religious independent graduates, but it should be noted that these attitudes are not necessarily connected to religion for everyone. 

Catholic independent school graduates are more likely than public school graduates to believe that science and religion are in conflict and that science conflicts with particular religious beliefs

Overall, there is a clear narrative in the data that the public and the nonreligious independent sectors do not cultivate religious attitudes and behaviours to the same degree as the three religious independent sectors. 

SEPARATE CATHOLIC

Perhaps the most intriguing narrative of the separate Catholic school graduates is how similar they are to public school graduates. This is not, however, to say that there are no important distinctions. For starters, graduates of separate Catholic schools are more likely to believe that living together (153), and premarital sex are morally wrong (154); however, they are similar to public school graduates when it comes to their stance on gay marriage (155). Their moral decision-making is also no more likely to depend on Scripture than their peers from public schools (156).

Separate Catholic school graduates attend religious worship services significantly more frequently than do public school graduates (161), but they have similar beliefs regarding salvation (201) and literal interpretations of the Bible (202, 204). 

In terms of Catholic spiritual and religious practices, there are a few indicators that attending separate Catholic schools plays a role in an increased likelihood (over and against that of the public school graduate) that they will pray the rosary (211), go to confession (210), or even pray alone (209). And while they are no more likely to share their faith with their friends and family than are public school graduates (213), they are slightly more likely to share their faith with a stranger (214). Yet overall, the separate Catholic school sector does not make these graduates any more likely to observe other traditional Catholic or Christian practices. 

The narrative from these findings is that there is not the distinction between separate Catholic and public school graduates that one might expect to exist, yet certain distinctions are found in terms of various practices and obligations that will likely encourage the Catholic community. However, the real point to note here is that separate Catholic school graduates are much more similar in their beliefs and behaviours to public school graduates than to graduates from independent religious schools. 

CATHOLIC INDEPENDENT 

Catholic independent school graduates are more likely than public school graduates to attend church (161), practice regular religious disciplines (191), and even acknowledge a turning point to God (163); yet they are indistinguishable from graduates in the public sector when it comes to trying to strengthen their relationship with God (168), giving 10 percent of their earnings (192), praying alone (209), or witnessing to friends and family about their faith (213). However, as might be expected, they are much more likely to go to confession (210), pray the rosary (211), attend small groups for spiritual support (212), and even read the Bible alone (216) or other religious literature (217) than public school graduates. 

Regarding their beliefs, these individuals are just as likely to turn to God or Scripture for moral decision-making as public sector graduates (156). And while they are more likely to believe God is a personal being (165), our findings reveal they are as likely as public school graduates to believe everything is in God’s plan (170) and to attempt to strengthen their relationship with God (168). As noted earlier, the family backgrounds and personal experiences are much stronger for solidifying religious belief and practice than the school sector appears to be for Catholic independent graduates.** 

These graduates are more likely than public school graduates to feel an obligation to the church (193) and accept the church’s authority (194) and obey it (195). Yet their obligations to the environment (196), to participate in politics (197), or to ensure others work ethically (198) are no different from graduates of public schools. The same is true for religious beliefs—graduates from Catholic independent schools are indistinguishable from public school graduates in their belief in the Bible’s infallibility (203), in Christ as the sole means of salvation (201), and in literal six-day creation (202). 

As noted in the previous section, independent school graduates have significantly more positive evaluations of their high school experiences than do graduates of public schools.

Finally, in terms of their attitudes and opinions, Catholic independent graduates are similar to the public school graduates regarding their belief that religion is a private matter best kept out of social and political issues (151). They are more likely to believe that cohabitation (153) and premarital sex (154) are morally wrong; yet they are just as likely as the public school graduates to believe gay marriage is morally wrong (155). 

**It should be noted that in this report we are focusing on school effects, which allow us to discuss how attendance in each sector influences particular outcomes over and above the influence of respondents’ family characteristics, which influenced their attendance at these schools in the first place. Therefore, while graduates of a particular sector might be significantly more likely to report a particular behaviour than are public school graduates when we look at raw numbers, that difference might be explainable by family characteristics that influenced selection into a particular sector rather than the effect of attending a school in that sector. Such is the case for many of the outcomes for independent Catholic school graduates in regards to religious orientation. For instance, these graduates are more likely to think Gay marriage is morally wrong [155], to say their spirituality gives them a sense of fulfilment [166], and to try and strengthen their relationship with God [168] when we look at raw numbers, but none of these effects are significant once we take these family-level selection effects into account. This indicates, for instance, that while graduates of independent Catholic schools are more likely than public school graduates on the previous points and others (see data pack at the end), this effect is attributable not to the schools they attended but the families that chose those schools in the first place.**

EVANGELICAL AND RELIGIOUS HOMESCHOOL 

Graduates of evangelical Protestant and religious homeschool environments have nearly identical results in terms of religious beliefs and behaviours that soundly set them apart from public school graduates when it comes to religious orientation; therefore, they have been treated together in this section. 

Regarding their behaviours, these individuals have a significantly higher frequencies of church attendance than public school graduates (161), and they are more likely to observe regular religious disciplines (191), try to strengthen their relationship with God (168), donate 10 percent of their income (192), pray alone (209), and read their Bible (216) than public school graduates. 

In terms of their beliefs, graduates of evangelical Protestant schools and religious homeschools are significantly more likely to make moral decisions based on Scripture than are their peers from the public sector (156). They are also more likely to believe that God is a personal being (165), believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible (202, 204) and in a single path to salvation through Jesus Christ (201), find fulfilment in their spirituality (166), and feel obligated to their church (193) and to obey the church’s authority (195). 

Finally, evangelical Protestant school graduates are also much more likely to maintain that religion should be involved with politics and social issues (151) than are their peers in public schools. They are more likely than public school graduates to believe divorce (152), cohabitation (153), premarital sex (154), and gay marriage (155) are morally wrong. 

Overall, these two sectors appear to cultivate graduates with significantly different beliefs and behaviours than the public sector. 

Religious homeschool graduates are no more likely than public school graduates to say that their schools were too strict or sheltered them too much.

CONCLUSION 

The findings in this section may not come as a surprise, but they might be of encouragement to those involved in religious independent schools since these schools seem to influence the continuity of religious observance in their graduates. Our findings reveal that school sector plays a strong role in the increased likelihood that religious practices like prayer, Bible reading, and worship are maintained into adulthood. Conversely, both public and nonreligious independent school graduates indicate a lesser likelihood of such observance in their graduates. There are findings here to encourage members of the separate Catholic sector since their graduates are distinct from the public by having greater likelihood for observing traditional religious practices; however, they are not as distinct as the other religious sectors. The most distinct from the public school graduates is the evangelical Protestant and the religious homeschool graduates, who are significantly more likely to observe religious behaviours and beliefs in adulthood. Intriguingly, Catholic independent school graduates are also distinct, but only when family background and experience are figured in; in terms of the school’s having an effect, they are often indistinguishable from public school graduates.

SECTION FIVE: Generosity 

In section 1, we looked at the current status of graduates in terms of their location, work, and current status. As we noted, these are often the areas of focus in education measurement. Yet if education is not simply about the attainment of such things, but properly equipping our students with the character that helps them better love their neighbour, then it is not enough to simply measure what graduates have acquired but also to measure how much they have given away. In this section, we turn our focus to giving. We have allocated a separate section to this category because it is not simply a matter of religious obligation (as some would have it), nor is it a matter of strict humanitarianism (as others might have it). Rather, as Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson (2014) so convincingly demonstrate, giving of time, resources, and skills is a personal and public good whether religiously motivated or not. Therefore, it is worth understanding which school sectors seem to form the graduates most likely to give in ways that benefit the common good. 

PUBLIC 

When it comes to volunteering, only Catholic independent graduates are more likely than public school graduates to do so (246). Otherwise, the narrative here is that public school graduates are largely indistinguishable from graduates in most of the other sectors when it comes to donating time and money. 

SEPARATE CATHOLIC 

Overall, separate Catholic school graduates are largely indistinguishable from public school graduates when it comes to giving and volunteering.

These graduates are no more likely than public school graduates to volunteer (246). Although separate Catholic school graduates were no more likely to have been on a mission trip as an adolescent than a public school graduate, they are more likely to go on a mission trip as an adult, particularly trips focused on development and relief (240, 243). 

CATHOLIC INDEPENDENT

Unlike separate Catholic school graduates, who are very similar to public school graduates, we find strong evidence that Catholic independent school graduates were more likely to be influenced by their schools to volunteer in their communities as adults than were public school graduates. Of all the school sectors, Catholic independent school graduates are the only ones more likely to volunteer than public school graduates (246), and to be more likely than their peers from public schools to volunteer in schools (248), for a youth program (249), and for their neighbourhoods (252). They are also the only sector to log more volunteer hours than public school graduates (256). 

When it comes to donations, they are far less distinct from the public sector. Graduates of Catholic independent schools are no more likely to donate to congregations (261), political causes (260), or other religious causes (262); and are no more likely than public school graduates to give 10 percent of their income (273), or make regular charitable donations (272). Congregational volunteering, though, is another story. Here again, school sector seems to come into play. Catholic independent school graduates are more likely than public school graduates to take on church leadership roles (221) and to participate in other congregational volunteer opportunities (223) and church activities (224), and they log more congregational volunteer hours (226) than public school graduates. 

Overall, these graduates tell a complex and mixed narrative when it comes to volunteering and donating. This school sector has a much greater influence on the graduates when it comes to volunteering and participation, but it is not as influential when it comes to donating their money. 

NONRELIGIOUS INDEPENDENT 

As was the case with religious orientation, there is no striking distinction between nonreligious independent school graduates and graduates of the public sector. They are no more likely than graduates of public schools to volunteer (246). In terms of where they volunteer, it is only in an arts or culture program in which you are more likely to find nonreligious independent school graduates than public school graduates (251). 

These graduates also donate greater amounts of money than public school graduates to their congregations (269), to other religious organizations (270), and to nonreligious organizations (271). However, they are no more likely than public school graduates to give 10 percent of their income (273) or to regularly make charitable contributions (272).

When it comes to congregational volunteering (220–227) and mission and relief trips, the data reveal no significant differences between nonreligious independent and public school graduates except that the nonreligious independent school graduates are less likely to go on an evangelism trip (242). 

Overall, nonreligious independent school graduates will donate larger amounts of money across various religious and nonreligious organizations, but they are no more likely participate in volunteer activities than public school graduates. 

EVANGELICAL PROTESTANT 

The most intriguing finding for evangelical Protestant school graduates when it comes to volunteering is that there is nothing that distinguishes them from public school graduates. Across the board they volunteer for schools (248) and neighbourhoods (252) to the same extent as public school graduates. Evangelical Protestant graduates were only more likely than public school graduates to volunteer for an arts or cultural centre (251).

Donating resources, however, is a different story. Here the evangelical Protestant school graduates are much more likely than their peers from public schools to donate. They donate more to their congregations (261) and in greater amounts (269); they also donate greater amounts to political causes (268), more often to other religious causes (262), and they even donate greater amounts to nonreligious organizations (271). They are the only ones more likely than the public sector to regularly give 10 percent of their income for donations (273). Overall, we conclude that evangelical Protestant schools play a significant and meaningful role in shaping their graduates to share their financial resources, but not necessarily their time. 

Evangelical Protestant school graduates are also more likely than public school graduates to go on mission trips. For instance, they are more likely than graduates of public schools to have ever been on a mission trip as a teen or as an adult (228, 239, 240) and have gone on a greater number of trips (244), and more likely to have gone on either an evangelism trip (242) or a relief trip (243). 

RELIGIOUS HOMESCHOOL 

When it comes to donations, religious homeschool graduates are more likely to give to their congregations (261) and in greater amounts (269) than their peers who graduated from public schools. However, in terms of giving to political causes (268), other religious organizations (270), and nonreligious causes (263), they are no different from graduates of the public sector. 

CONCLUSION 

The findings here suggest that separate Catholic and public school graduates are almost indistinguishable from each other when it comes to giving of their resources or time. Catholic independent school graduates were more likely than public school graduates to volunteer of their time, but not to donate money. Conversely, the nonreligious independent school graduates were more likely to donate money, but no more likely to give up their time and volunteer. Similarly, graduates from evangelical Protestant schools are much more likely to donate their money, but (mission and relief trips excepted) less likely to give up time to volunteer to a greater degree than public school graduates. Finally, religious homeschool graduates give more to their religious communities than do public school graduates, but to the same degree as other public causes. 

SECTION SIX: Life in Public 

If a good education helps us better love our neighbours, it must necessarily have a public component (Green and Sikkema 2015). Because even if you maintain that school is primarily about self-actualization and character formation, such things can only be realized when embedded into a shared life with others. For this reason, the findings in this section are particularly important since they examine how graduates navigate the public world. 

While some of the questions in this section are “politically” directed, the broader focus is on how graduates live within a shared, civil society. This is about more than voting or even political protesting—as important as each of these is. Rather, it is about how involved graduates are in the life of their communities and how willing they are to give of themselves for others. 

PUBLIC AND SEPARATE CATHOLIC 

In this section the findings from the public and separate Catholic sectors are so similar, albeit with very slight distinctions, that they have been examined together. Perhaps the most important point to note for public school graduates is that they are either just as likely as or more likely than graduates from other independent sectors to actively participate in various political movements. For starters, there are no educational sector differences when it comes to who has protested, marched, or demonstrated (280) or who has participated in a boycott (279). 

Public school graduates are more likely than separate Catholic school graduates to participate in a women’s rights movement (299), and they are also more likely than graduates of most other sectors to participate in environmental movements (excepting separate Catholic and nonreligious independent) (298). They are also more likely than nonreligious independent school graduates to campaign for a candidate (278). 

Graduates of public schools are more likely to be informed about politics across the available media platforms than religious homeschool graduates (296, 297). For example, they are more likely to get information about politics from the radio than religious homeschool graduates (290), and they only learn about politics from the news (291) and blogs (295) less than graduates of nonreligious independent schools. They are, however, more likely to read about politics in magazines than religious homeschool and Christian independent school graduates (294). 

Public and separate Catholic school graduates are also involved in significantly more civic organizations than religious homeschool graduates (but similar to graduates from other sectors) (319), particularly hobbies, sports, or youth groups (316). Public school graduates are more likely than separate Catholic graduates to participate in fraternal clubs (307), but less likely than them to participate in a nonpartisan civic group (314). But overall, the data indicate that the public school and separate Catholic sector does just as good of a job at forming students who are engaged in public life through civic organizations as the other sectors, excepting the religious homeschool sector whose graduates are less engaged. Separate Catholic and independent school graduates are more likely to have worked for (334) or donate to (336), respectively, a federal campaign than are public school graduates. 

Overall, public school graduates and separate Catholic graduates are less likely than evangelical Protestant and Catholic independent school graduates to be involved in non-congregational organizations, which works against the stereotype that public school graduates are more civically minded than graduates from independent schools (350). The data indicate that public school graduates are also less willing than evangelical Protestant and nonreligious independent school graduates to give blood (351), volunteer (352), and to donate to charity (353). While the picture of public school graduates here reveals that, based on school-sector effects, they are less likely than graduates from the independent sectors to be engaged in civic life, the reason for this is unclear. However, there is one finding that might provide part of the answer: public and separate Catholic school graduates are less likely than evangelical Protestant, Catholic independent, and nonreligious independent school graduates to feel responsible for helping those in need (355). This attitude toward others—neighbours—and the correlation we see with behaviour from graduates from public schools is worth noting. 

CATHOLIC INDEPENDENT 

Graduates of independent Catholic schools are very similar to public school graduates in terms of their political and civic engagement. The only significant difference we see between these groups is that graduates of Catholic independent schools are more willing to protest (275) (which is intriguing given that they are no more likely to actually protest! [280]). 

There are no differences between Catholic independent school graduates and public school graduates in terms of where they receive their political news (290–295). 

Political volunteering and donations, however, show a slightly different narrative. Catholic independent school graduates are more likely than public school graduates to work for a charity or church (330), give to a federal campaign (336), and to be involved in non-congregational organizations (350). They are also more likely than the public school graduates to feel responsible to help those in need (355). It is worth noting that the separate Catholic schools are having an effect on the increased likelihood that their graduates will volunteer in religious and nonreligious organizations. 

NONRELIGIOUS INDEPENDENT

Nonreligious independent school graduates have the most distinct differences from public school graduates when it comes to their political involvement, which raises a series of important questions. For starters, they are less likely than public school graduates to have campaigned for a candidate (278) or to have participated in environmental (298), anti-war (301), and LGBT movements (302). And while they are more likely to talk politics (285, 286), they are less likely to participate in political movements across the board (303). Nonreligious independent school graduates, who (we know from other sections of the report) have higher incomes and higher rates of college graduation and are more likely to donate money to religious and nonreligious organizations, are less likely to get involved in political activities, even though they discuss politics more often.

In regard to where they find their political information, they are more likely than public school graduates to read blogs (295) and Internet news (291), which is an intriguing finding given that such platforms are qualitatively different from newspapers, TV, or magazines. Blogs and Internet news are more open to editorial slant, more current and available, and perhaps most intriguingly, less controlled by centralized media giants. 

When it comes to their participation in civic organizations, they are more likely to be involved in non-partisan groups than are public school graduates (314, 324), but less likely to attend community group meetings (327). In other words, they are members of groups in name but appear to be less likely to attend meetings. This is parallel to the finding that they might be politically aware and engaged but less likely to actually participate. 

Perhaps the most important distinction between nonreligious independent and public school graduates is that nonreligious independent school graduates are less likely to work for a political candidate, cause, or issue (335). No other sector notes this difference, which may be due to the type of work such graduates have (work that would limit their available time for such volunteering), or it may be a lack of desire to participate in political life in this manner. However, despite this, they are more likely to donate blood (328) and be willing to donate blood (351); they are also more willing to volunteer (352) and give to charity (353). And, along these lines, they are also more likely than the public school graduates to feel responsible to help those in need (355). Overall, it is important to keep in mind that while they might be less likely to volunteer politically and be engaged with certain civic organizations, they are still quite active in public life in different ways.

EVANGELICAL PROTESTANT 

Overall, evangelical Protestant school graduates are less likely than public school graduates to be involved in a whole host of political activities (303). They are less likely to participate in environmental (298) and LGBT movements (302), which is intriguing since they do indicate a concern for the environment, if not LGBT issues. They are, however, just as likely to engage in women’s rights (299) and anti-war movements (301) as the public school graduates.

They are less likely than public school graduates to get political information from magazines (294) and from blogs (295), but just as likely to get it from the radio (290) or the news (291). For participation in civic organizations, the only area in which these graduates indicate they are more likely to participate than their public school peers is in seniors groups (310). In all other areas they are just as likely as the public school graduates to serve (307–327). This finding reveals that the evangelical Protestant school graduates are actively part of civic life to the same extent as their peers from public schools.

Finally, in terms of their political volunteering and donations, they are similar to public school graduates on most scores. They are, as one might expect, less likely to volunteer in public schools (345), but they are also more likely to volunteer in non-congregational organizations (350). In addition to this, they are more willing to give blood (351), volunteer (352), and donate to charity (353), which is all, perhaps, connected to the fact that they are also more likely to feel a responsibility to help those in need (355). This indicates that the evangelical Protestant sector is managing to cultivate graduates with a healthy sense of love for their neighbour in a manner that influences behaviour well past the secondary school years. 

RELIGIOUS HOMESCHOOL 

In terms of their political participation, religious homeschool graduates primarily indicate no real difference from graduates of the public sector. They are as likely to protest (275), engage in political activities (276), campaign for a candidate (278), protest, march, demonstrate (280), or even talk politics at church (284) or with family and friends (285, 286). They are, however, less likely to be involved with political movements in general (303), and the environmental movement in particular (298). 

Across the board, these graduates are less likely than public school graduates to get their political knowledge from radio (290) and magazines (294), and overall consult fewer sources for political information than graduates from the public sector (296). 

Regarding their participation in civic organizations, they are more likely than public school graduates to be involved with religious groups (309), but less likely to be in hobbies, sports, and youth groups (316, 324), and in general are involved in fewer civic organization than graduates from the public sector. 

Finally, religious homeschool graduates provide no real distinct differences from those in the public sector when it comes to their volunteering and donating for political causes. They are just as likely as public school graduates to donate blood (328), work for a federal campaign (334), or work for a candidate or political cause (335), indicating that the religious homeschool cultivate graduates who are active participants in the public good, at least to the same extent as the public school. 

CONCLUSION 

Perhaps the most interesting finding in this section concerns the attitudes that graduates have toward others. When asked if they feel responsibility for others, public and separate Catholic school graduates were indistinguishable from each other while all the other sectors indicate being more likely to feel this way. Despite this, the findings bear out that graduates from all sectors are involved in a diverse range of political activities and civic institutions that are both inside and outside of religious communities. There is no indication here that graduates from religious or independent education institutions are less likely to be engaged participants in public life than are public school graduates. 

SECTION SEVEN: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) 

The Canadian version of the Cardus Education Survey was expanded in 2016 to include a section on experiences and engagements with STEM activities. This comes in response to numerous requests from schools who are interested to know about how they can better equip their graduates to live in a world that is (still) increasingly focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The assumption that the future prosperity, earnings, and career prospects of graduates will be “segregated by science” is now a dominant part of public discourse (Blow 2015). As secondary schools feel the push to shape pedagogy and curriculum toward such ends, having a better grasp on various school-sector outcomes in these fields is an important first step toward making adjustments and, possibly, improvements. 

Of course, we would again urge that a utilitarian approach to education is problematic, and often the push for better STEM results is motivated by such an approach. That is, if the jobs of the twenty-first century demand experience and engagement with STEM fields, then schools should necessarily equip graduates with STEM courses so they can better find gainful employment. In order to temper such a reading, we would remind readers that approach to education is, again, only one piece in a much more comprehensive picture

PUBLIC AND SEPARATE CATHOLIC 

Since the results for graduates of these two sectors are so similar, they are discussed together, making note of the distinctions that still do separate these school sectors. We find that separate Catholic school graduates are less likely than public school graduates to believe that science and technology will provide opportunities for the next generation (368). Otherwise, they hold that science and religion conflict (369, 370), humans evolved from animals (371), and science has a positive effect on society (409), food (421), health (422), and the environment (423) to the same degree. They also trust the contributions of engineers (394) and scientists (393) to society at the same levels. 

Finally, separate Catholic school graduates and public school graduates keep up with science news (403), watch science shows (404), visit science websites (405), and read science magazines (406) to the same extent as each other in their adult lives. 

CATHOLIC INDEPENDENT 

In secondary school, graduates of Catholic independent schools have more exposure to core STEM courses than do public school graduates. They are more likely to have taken geometry (373), trigonometry (374), and more math classes in general (378) than graduates from public schools. They also had more chemistry (381) and engineering (383) courses. 

In terms of their attitudes toward science, Catholic independent school graduates are more likely than public school graduates to believe that science and religion are in conflict (369) and that science conflicts with particular religious beliefs (370). (However, it is intriguing to note that they are no more likely than public school graduates to believe that humans evolved from animals (371).) Generally, these graduates believe science has a positive effect on society (409) to a higher degree than public school graduates, but the two groups are quite similar to each other when it comes to the likelihood of viewing the particular positive effects science has on food (421), health (422), or the environment (423). 

Catholic independent school graduates are more likely than public school graduates to believe that science and religion are in conflict and that science conflicts with particular religious beliefs

Overall, these graduates are more likely than public school graduates to engage various media outlets concerned with science (408), particularly when it comes to reading science magazines on a regular basis (406). 

NONRELIGIOUS INDEPENDENT 

Across the board, nonreligious independent school graduates report having had more exposure to a variety of STEM courses during their secondary school years than public school graduates. They were more likely than public school graduates to have had algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus and pre-calculus (372–376). However, this mathheavy curriculum did not come at the expense of non-STEM courses, as they were also more likely than public school graduates to have taken both foreign language (385) and civics courses (386). 

These graduates are just as likely as public school graduates to believe science and religion and/or religious beliefs exist in tension with each other (369/370). Yet they are more likely to trust the contributions of scientists (393) and engineers (394), and to believe that science has a positive effect on society in general (409), and food, health, and the environment in particular (421–423). Overall, graduates of this school sector have a higher degree of trust and confidence in the scientific community than individuals from other sectors. Finally, these graduates are more likely than their peers in public schools to engage with science media (408), particularly science news (403). 

EVANGELICAL PROTESTANT 

Evangelical Protestant school graduates, much like the nonreligious independent and Catholic independent school graduates, report having more exposure to various STEM courses during their secondary school days than graduates from public schools. Specifically, they report being more likely to have had algebra (372), calculus (376), and biology (380). However, they are just as likely as public school graduates to have had geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus, chemistry, and engineering courses (373, 374, 375, 381, 383). 

They are less likely than graduates of public schools to believe that science and technology will provide opportunities for the next generation (368). They, along with religious homeschool graduates, are also less likely than public school graduates to believe that humans evolved from animals (371). Overall, they harbour no more suspicion of the general good of scientific contribution to society than the public school graduate (410), which may be a sign that the apparent antagonism they believe exists between science and religion does not correlate to a mistrust of science per se and its benefits to society, but perhaps more to the claims (and limits) of science over and against the claims (and limits) of religious belief. 

RELIGIOUS HOMESCHOOL 

While religious homeschool graduates are exposed to the same number of STEM courses as graduates of public schools (373–385), in their adult lives they are less likely than graduates of public schools to believe that science or technology will provide opportunities for the next generation (368). They are also less likely to believe that science and religion conflict (369), which might go against some preconceived ideas about these graduates, or might mean that they’ve not been exposed to scientific theories that conflict with their religious beliefs. These graduates, like evangelical Protestant school graduates, are also less likely to believe that human evolved from animals (371). In terms of who they trust and their general trust in science to be a good for society, there is no distinction between these graduates and public school graduates. 

Finally, religious homeschool graduates are less likely than public school graduates to watch science shows (404), visit science websites (405), read science magazines (406), and, in general, have any media exposure to science (408). Overall, then, while these graduates exhibit no particular distinction about their level of trust in science and the scientific community, they are the ones who are the least engaged with science-related media.

CONCLUSION 

The findings here reveal that graduates of independent schools completed more high school STEM courses, whether in the maths or sciences. However, into adulthood, nonreligious independent and Catholic independent school graduates seem significantly more likely than public school graduates to engage with science-related media. Religious homeschool graduates do not exhibit a lower degree of trust in science, but they are less likely to engage with science-related media. It is worth noting that graduates of the religious independent sectors were more likely to see science and religion in some form of conflict than the nonreligious and separate Catholic sectors. Overall, though, there is nothing in these findings to indicate that graduates from any sector are more likely to have attitudes and dispositions toward STEM that would make them unready to obtain training and work in this sector. 

SECTION EIGHT: Evaluating High School Experience 

In this final section, we report on respondents’ evaluations of their own experiences in high school both in terms of the school’s inner culture and, more broadly, how well their schools prepared them for life in society. Not only is a student who looks favourably on her high school years more likely to support that type of school and, perhaps, send her children there, but this information also provides a strong front-line account of how prepared each sector left graduates for life beyond high school. And if a good education helps us to better love our neighbours, it’s worth giving attention to students’ reflections concerning how their own particular schools prepared them for life in society. 

PUBLIC AND SEPARATE CATHOLIC 

Regarding quality of education, public school graduates evaluated their schools less positively than graduates of all the independent sectors (evangelical Protestant, Catholic, and nonreligious independent), yet were similar to separate Catholic and religious homeschool graduates (429). Nonreligious independent school graduates had more positive evaluations of the athletic opportunities available to them at their high schools than did nonreligious public school graduates, while religious homeschool graduates had less positive evaluations (430). Nonreligious independent and Christian independent school graduates also felt that their schools provided them with a stronger quality of relationships with teachers (432) and students (434) than did public school graduates. In addition, when compared to graduates from all independent sector graduates, public school graduates are less likely to think their schools were “close-knit” (436). In addition, they were less likely than graduates from evangelical Protestant and nonreligious independent schools to think their teachers cared (437) and that students got along (436). An intriguing finding, though, is that these graduates are the least likely of all sectors other than religious homeschool to believe their school was too strict (440) and too sheltered (441). 

Graduates from independent schools generally feel more prepared by their high school experiences for college and the workforce than do public school graduates. In fact, they report feeling less prepared for their job than do nonreligious independent and homeschool graduates (442). They also feel less prepared for college than graduates from independent sectors (443). Likewise, public school graduates were less likely to indicate that their high school experiences prepared them for relationships than were independent school graduates, but more so than separate Catholic school graduates (444). They also feel much less prepared than graduates of all other sectors for a vital, religious spiritual life (445), which is an intriguing finding that bears consideration from supporters and members of the public sector who still educate children from diverse religious backgrounds. 

Across the board, separate Catholic school graduates evaluate their school experiences similarly to public school graduates. The only school sector distinctions that can be noted are that separate Catholic school graduates were more likely than public school graduates to view their schools as to strict (440) and as having sheltered them too much (441). Also, they were less likely than public school graduates to believe their school prepared them for relationships (444). Finally, it is important to note that separate Catholic school graduates are more likely than public school graduates to believe that their high school prepared them for a vital religious life (445). The fact that the separate Catholic and public are the two systems that have umbrella boards elected by the public at large with a substantial bureaucracy between parents and the school may be a factor. All of the other schools function much more directly at the local school level between school and parents, and the satisfaction results mirror this. 

CATHOLIC INDEPENDENT, NONRELIGIOUS INDEPENDENT, AND EVANGELICAL PROTESTANT

 As noted in the previous section, independent school graduates have significantly more positive evaluations of their high school experiences than do graduates of public schools. Independent Catholic, Nonreligious independent, and evangelical Protestant school graduates regard the overall quality of their high schools with higher esteem than do public school graduates (429). 

They also believe that their schools handled religious and spiritual matters better than public school graduates believed their schools did (431). 

As noted in the previous section, independent school graduates have significantly more positive evaluations of their high school experiences than do graduates of public schools.

Only graduates from nonreligious independent and evangelical Protestant schools are more likely than public school graduates to think their schools fostered quality relationships with teachers (432) and other students (434), and to say that students get along (436) and the teachers care about their students (437). However, it bears attention that Catholic independent school graduates are indistinguishable from the public on all these points. Yet respondents from each of these sectors are much more likely than public school graduates to remember their schools both as being too strict (440) and as sheltering them too much (441). Finally, independent school graduates feel more prepared for a vital religious life than graduates from the public sector (445). 

RELIGIOUS HOMESCHOOL

Graduates from religious homeschool settings bear separate treatment because, while they are outside of the conventional school environment and likely have a significantly different experience of education than do students in traditional school settings, they rate their experiences with school quite similarly to public school graduates. First, their evaluation of the overall quality of their education is indistinct from public school graduates (429). They do, however, rate their athletic opportunities significantly lower (430). Yet they are indistinguishable from public sector graduates when it comes to how their school environments handled religious and spiritual matters (431), the quality of their relationships with teachers (432), or even whether their teachers cared (437). Understanding that homeschool is a unique sector in terms of educational experiences, it is also intriguing that, unlike the other independent schools (and even the separate Catholic), individuals who completed high school in a homeschool setting are no more likely than public school graduates to say that their schools were too strict (440) or sheltered them too much (441). 

Religious homeschool graduates are no more likely than public school graduates to say that their schools were too strict or sheltered them too much.

These graduates, across the board, feel more prepared for life beyond high school than public school graduates. They feel more prepared for a job (442) and for relationships (444), and for a vital religious life (445). What is intriguing here is that while their evaluations of school culture reveal little distinction from those of public school graduates, they leave school feeling more prepared for life after high school than the public school graduates do. 

CONCLUSION 

This final section provides a crucial piece of the full picture of graduates from every sector. It suggests that independent sector graduates (excepting homeschool) are more likely to believe that their school prepared them for life after high school than public school graduates. Intriguingly, while separate Catholic school graduates are similar to public school graduates, they are more likely to believe their school prepared them for religious life. Evangelical Protestant and Catholic independent school graduates have a significantly more positive view of their secondary education than public school graduates.

CONCLUSION: A More Complete Picture of Canadian Graduates 

PUBLIC 

  1. Just as likely to be fully employed, albeit with lower incomes, while less likely to attain a bachelor’s degree.
  2. Just as likely as other sector graduates to be married or divorced; less likely to share meals or devotional practices as a family than other sectors; no significant differences from other sectors in terms of satisfaction with life and goals for seeking out work; social ties are diverse.
  3. No distinct differences in terms of trust for a host of civic institutions. While they do trust religion less than the religious independent institutions, they also champion tolerance of religious and nonreligious communities equally with graduates from other sectors.
  4. Much less likely than the religious independent schools to observe religious attitudes and behaviours.
  5. Less likely to volunteer, but as likely to donate as other graduates.
  6. Less likely to feel responsible for others and less engaged in civic institutions than the independent sectors.
  7. Exposed to fewer STEM courses than the independent sectors (excepting religious homeschool) during their secondary years, but have a higher degree of confidence in science than religious homeschool graduates.
  8. Evaluate their schooling less positively than the independent sectors (excepting religious homeschool); least likely to think their school was too strict; feel less prepared for post-secondary education than graduates from the independent sectors.

SEPARATE CATHOLIC 

  1. More likely than public school graduates to earn a bachelor’s degree and to earn a higher income.
  2. Just as likely as public school graduates to be divorced or married; greater likelihood they carry on religion-affirming habits (prayer, Bible reading) in their homes; connected to people within religious and nonreligious communities to equal degrees.
  3. Confidence and trust equal to public school graduates, while they have a higher degree of trust in religion.
  4. Largely indistinguishable from public school graduates, but school sector does affect an increased likelihood in observing traditional classic religious practices.
  5. Indistinguishable from public school graduates in donations and volunteering; any increased likelihood to donate or volunteer is not due to school sector.
  6. Less likely to feel responsible for others and less engaged in civic institutions than the independent sectors.
  7. Exposed to less STEM courses than the independent sectors (excepting religious homeschool) during their secondary years, but have a higher degree of confidence in science than religious homeschool graduates.
  8. Evaluate their schooling less positively than the independent sectors (excepting religious homeschool); least likely to think their school was too strict; feel less prepared for postsecondary education than graduates from the independent sectors; more likely than public school graduates to believe that school prepared them for a religious life.

CATHOLIC INDEPENDENT 

  1. Similar to public school graduates in terms of the likelihood of being fully employed, having a managerial position, the size of their income, and attaining post-secondary education.
  2. Higher likelihood of being married and less likely to cohabitate; have significantly bigger families; have a more diverse set of social ties although fewer close ties than public school graduates.
  3. Equal levels of trust to public school graduates; however, they have significantly more trust in religion but do not believe the society is hostile to their religion any more than public school graduates.
  4. Generally not distinct from public school graduates in religious orientation; however, when family background and experiences are not controlled, they become more likely than public school graduates to observe a range of religious behaviours and opinions.
  5. More likely to volunteer their time than public school graduates; however, just as likely to donate.
  6. Very few differences from public school graduates in terms of political participation; however, they are more likely to volunteer in religious and nonreligious civic organizations.
  7. More exposure to STEM courses in secondary school; more likely to see religion and science in conflict; more likely to engage various media to stay informed about science into adulthood.
  8. Significantly more positive view of their secondary education than public school graduates; believe that they were prepared for life after high school to a greater degree than public school graduates.

NONRELIGIOUS INDEPENDENT 

  1. More likely to earn higher incomes and to obtain higher levels of education after high school.
  2. More likely to have divorced; more likely to eat, pray, and read the Bible together as a family; seek work that helps them make friends more than public school graduates; social ties are more homogenous in terms of education than the public sector.
  3. Trust and confidence are similar to public school graduates, but they are far more likely to trust the institutions of government and science; they are also less likely than public school graduates to see society as hostile to their values.
  4. Religious orientation is indistinguishable from public school graduates.
  5. As likely as public school graduates to donate, but donate larger amounts; they are just as likely to volunteer.
  6. Less likely to participate in the political process; more likely to get political news from non-mainline news sources (blogs and the Internet); less likely to be involved in community groups, but more willing to volunteer for civic institutions and to donate money to them.
  7. More exposure to STEM courses in secondary school than public school graduates; more likely to trust the contributions of science; more likely to keep up to date with scientific developments than public school graduates.
  8. Significantly more positive view of their secondary education than public school graduates; believe that they were prepared for life after high school to a greater degree than public school graduates.

EVANGELICAL PROTESTANT 

  1. No difference with public school graduates in being fully employed, but a greater likelihood of being in managerial or professional roles. Educational attainment after high school indistinct from public school.
  2. More likely to be married, but just as likely to be divorced or cohabitate; increased likelihood of eating, praying, and reading the Bible together as a family; less interested in creativity for their work; just as inclined to look for work that fulfils a religious calling as public school graduates; social ties just as diverse as those of public school graduates.
  3. As trusting and confident in society and its institutions as public school graduates; they trust religion to a significantly greater degree yet are no less likely to see society as hostile to their values. 
  4. School sector is significantly more likely to form graduates who attend church, observe religious disciplines, and strengthen their relationship with God than public school graduates.
  5. Much more likely than public school graduates to donate money and to go on relief and mission trips.
  6. Equally engaged in public life as their public school peers; more likely to volunteer in non-congregational organizations.
  7. More exposure to STEM courses than public school graduates; less likely to believe technology and science will produce opportunities in the future.
  8. Significantly more positive view of their secondary education than public school graduates; believe that they were prepared for life after high school to a greater degree than the public school graduates.

RELIGIOUS HOMESCHOOL 

  1. Earn lower incomes than the public school graduates and are less likely to obtain post-secondary degrees; however, they are just as likely to be employed and in positions of management.
  2. More likely to be married and significantly less likely to cohabitate, but just as likely to have divorced; more than the public sectors, they hold more traditional gender roles where husband is the primary breadwinner; overall they are far less likely than the public school graduates to seek work that helps them be creative, is worthwhile to society, or even pays well, but they do seek work that fulfils a religious calling to the same degree; their social ties reveal stronger homogenization in terms of religion.
  3. Across the wide range of institutions listed, less trusting and confident than public school graduates; they are also increasingly more likely to see the society as hostile to their values.
  4. School sector is significantly more likely to form graduates who attend church, observe religious disciplines, and strengthen their relationship with God than public school graduates.
  5. School sector seems to make these graduates less likely to donate than they would be otherwise; they are largely indistinguishable from public school graduates because of this.
  6. Just as likely as public school graduates to be engaged in various levels of public life (protests, campaigns, etc.), but less involved in various political movements and civic organizations.
  7. Exposed to an equal amount of STEM courses as public school graduates and as likely to trust science and its possibilities of helping society; however, they are less likely to keep up with scientific news than public school graduates.
  8. Rank their school’s quality the same as public school graduates; they note fewer opportunities than public school graduates do; they report being more prepared for life after high school than graduates from public school.

All Cardus Education Survey reports and data packs are available for free download at WWW.CARDUSEDUCATIONSURVEY.COM.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

The research team would like to thank Mr. Paul Faris, Prof. Sam Reimer, Dr. Deani Van Pelt, and Dr. Amy Von Heyking for the valuable consultation they provided as members of the expert panel for this research.

RESEARCH TEAM

The research team worked in a collaborative manner in overseeing the survey design and providing the analysis for this report. Beth Green served as the chair and coordinator of this committee. David Sikkink served as principal investigator, Sara Skiles as project manager and Doug Sikkema as the “pen” for this report. The research team wishes to acknowledge the contribution of Jeff Reimer who served as copy editor and Kira Lodder for the illustrations and layout design work on this project. 

Beth Green (B.A., M.A., University of Oxford; P.G.C.E., University of Cambridge; M.A., King’s College London; DPhil., University of Oxford) is the Program Director of Cardus Education and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Green is a prize-winning scholar with an international reputation for her expertise in religious school ethos; leadership and management; teaching and learning; and social theory in education. Formerly the director of the National Centre for Christian Education at Liverpool Hope University in the United Kingdom, she regularly advises on effective approaches to measurement, professional development, and pedagogy in the religious school sector. 

David Sikkink (B.A., Bethel College; M.A., University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; Ph.D., University of North Carolina Chapel Hill) is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, and director of the Cardus Religious Schools Initiative at UND. He is also a Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Religion at Notre Dame as well as the Institution for Educational Initiatives. His main research interests are in education, religion, and politics. Sikkink’s publications include articles on pathways from religious participation of teenagers to educational outcomes (The Sociological Quarterly). David has also investigated the relation between religious tradition and views of public schools. 

Ray Pennings (B.A., McMaster University; M.A., Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary) is a co-founder and Executive Vice President of Cardus. Pennings is one of Canada’s top authorities in industrial relations, as well as public policy, political activism, and political affairs generally. He is one of the world’s leading authorities on “applied Calvinism” and the theology of Puritan and Calvinist groups in politics and civil society. 

Sara Skiles (B.A., Austin College; M.A., M.P.A., University of Texas at Arlington; Ph.D., University of Notre Dame) is a researcher in the Centre for the Study of Religion and Society in the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. Skiles also serves as project manager for the Cardus Religious Schools Initiative. Her research interests are cultural capital, aesthetic taste, and network formation. Her dissertation examined the use of aesthetic taste expression as a social boundary drawing technique. She previously managed the fourth wave of data collection for the National Survey of Youth and Religion, which explored the religious beliefs and behaviours of adolescents and young adults. 

Doug Sikkema (B.A., Redeemer University College; M.A., University of Ottawa; B.Ed., University of Toronto) is a Senior Researcher for Cardus and managing editor of Comment Magazine. Sikkema is currently working towards a Ph.D. in American literature at the University of Waterloo. Sikkema’s research looks at the idea of modernity’s disenchantment and traces this notion through several contemporary American writers to interrogate what this might mean in postmodernity.

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APPENDIX: METHODOLOGY & DATA SLIDES 

The following report is based upon a series of regression analyses that will be found in the appendices at the end of this report. If you want to flip to the back as you are reading and look at the data (which we encourage you to do) you might be a bit baffled by the graphs with the confusing dots, lines, and axes. 

To help you better know how to read the data, look at slide 48 as an example. As you’ll notice, the graph is titled in relation to the question asked in the survey. Slide 48, therefore, regards who has a child in an independent school. The graph shows a blue and a red point estimate for each school sector. The sectors are all labelled on the y-axis, except for the public school which is the solid red vertical line creating the baseline against which the other sectors are measured. 

The points in our graphs show our estimates of the difference between the average for each school sector and the average for the public school sector. For example, in slide 48, both the red and blue point estimates for the evangelical Protestant graduates are positive, to the right of the public school average (represented by the vertical red line at zero). This indicates that on average evangelical Protestant graduates are more likely to have a child in an independent school than are public school graduates. 

The sector differences are displayed as deviations from the public school mean for that particular variable, which is why the public school is “represented” by the vertical line in the graphs. The nonreligious public school averages provide the baseline from which we estimate differences in the averages for other school sectors. Again, look at slide 48. We know that evangelical Protestants and nonreligious independents are more likely to have a child within an independent school, but separate Catholic and religious homeschool graduates are no more likely. But what about the Catholic Independents? That’s where it gets a bit more tricky, and has to do with the red and blue lines. 

For each sector, the blue point shows the estimated difference between, for example, the average evangelical Protestant school graduate and the average public school graduate. These are estimates of the “raw” differences in the Canadian population. For example, the blue point estimate for Catholic independent school graduates reveals that these graduates are more likely to have a child in an independent school than are public school graduates since the “best guess” point estimate is clearly positive for the independent Catholic sector. However the blue points are estimates we have when family or demographic differences are not controlled. In other words, we know there is a difference, but it might be because of socioeconomic status, religion, family life, or something else besides where the graduate attended high school.

The red points, however, show the average school sector differences after accounting for many of the known differences between families who send their children to public schools rather than independent schools. What differences remain after controlling for family and demographic variables, we will consider in this report to be “school effects,” i.e., the remaining difference is due to the school experiences rather than family experiences. We would expect, for example, that families who can afford tuition are wealthier and that families that have children in evangelical Protestant schools are more religious. We would like to know whether differences in sector averages (the blue points) can be accounted for by family differences. Control variables include parent’s educational attainment, involvement in academics, and religious service attendance, and so on. We also controlled for the respondent’s race, gender, age, and region. 

Of course we do not have data from every young adult in Canada, which would give us, for example, the true proportion of the religious home school population that send a child to an independent school. Instead, we provide the “best guess” point estimates discussed earlier based on our sample of religious homeschoolers. We don’t expect that these points are perfect estimates for the real differences between sectors, but they are likely to be pretty close. How close? For each estimate we create confidence intervals, represented by the blue and red lines (also known as whiskers), which place boundaries on the range of values that are plausible for the real differences in Canada between, say, Catholic independent school graduates and public school graduates. Looking at the blue line for independent Catholic schoolers, we see that all of the plausible estimates of the difference with nonreligious public schoolers are positive, indicating that without controls independent Catholic schoolers are more likely to send a child to an independent school. But the red line for the estimates for Catholic independent graduates includes both positive and negative values. In this case, we have to conclude that we don’t have clear evidence in this sample that after accounting for family background there is any difference in the probability that a Catholic independent graduate would send a child to an independent school more so than a public graduate. 

Limitations of this methodology and additional information on our statistical analyses can be found in Appendix B. 

FULL METHODOLOGY 

The 2016 Cardus Education Study includes a survey of randomly selected Canadians that was administered by MARU, formerly the Research and Consulting division of Vision Critical. This survey included a large oversample of non-government school graduates that was selected from the MARU Internet panel and from Internet panels of several MARU partners. The random sample was limited to respondents between twenty-three and forty years of age who had graduated from high school. Schooling history information included whether the respondent had primarily attended for high school a non-religious public school, government-funded Catholic school, independent school (i.e., private school with tuition), or homeschool. Those who reported primarily attending an independent school were asked a follow-up question to determine the type of independent school. Respondents chose from the following options: Catholic, conservative Protestant or “Christian school,” other Protestant school, or other type of independent school. In addition, respondents were asked the name and location of the high school from which they graduated. The research team used these responses to classify respondents into categories of public, separate Catholic, Catholic independent, nonreligious independent, “Christian” or evangelical Protestant, and homeschooling. If the respondent did not provide a school name or the school name could not be classified into one of these categories, the respondent report of the type of school they primarily attended for high school was used to classify the respondent. Cases in which high school sector could not be determined were deleted from the analysis data set. 

Between March 1 and April 30, 2016, respondents completed a forty-five-minute survey that included questions on schooling history and experiences, evaluation of their high school, family background, occupational goals, current education and occupation, marriage and family, religious and spiritual involvement, and civic and political engagement. In order to make the survey instrument comparable to the United States sample of the Cardus Education Study, several questions were replicated from the Knowledge Networks profile and public affairs surveys, which were asked of the US respondents to the Cardus Education Survey. 

The resulting data set was analyzed using nested regression analyses to predict outcomes related to socio-economic status, personality and mental health, and pro-social attitudes and behaviour, including volunteer, civic engagement, and political participation. For each dependent variable, the first model included binary variables related to type of schooling—separate Catholic high school, Catholic independent high school, evangelical Protestant or “Christian school,” nonreligious independent high school, and homeschool. A small number of respondents attended some other type of Protestant high school, or a Jewish or other religious high school. Due to small sample sizes, these cases were not used in the analysis. Those who primarily attended public high school served as the comparison group. The homeschool category is split into homeschoolers whose mother attended religious services regularly (i.e., once a month or more) and those whose mother did not attend religious services regularly. A binary variable is then entered into the models for “religious” homeschoolers and “nonreligious” homeschoolers. Since some of the school sectors had too few respondents, the CES report and graphs only discuss and show coefficients from the two Catholic sectors, the nonreligious independent sector, the evangelical Protestant sector, and the religious homeschool sector. Given differences between the school systems and culture of Quebec and other provinces, the analysis does not include respondents who attended high school in Quebec. These data will be analyzed in a separate report. 

The distribution of English-speaking, non-government high school respondents in the analysis is as follows: 

  • 540 Public 
  • 428 Separate Catholic 
  • 76 Catholic Independent 
  • 88 Evangelical Protestant 
  • 138 Nonreligious independent 
  • 57 Religious homeschool

The size of each of the non-government schooling groups is modest, but adequate for most of our purposes. Note that the non-government schooling oversample is unique relative to other surveys, since all of the non-government sectors likely account for approximately 8 percent of high school students in Canada. When evaluating the adequacy of sample sizes, it is also important to keep in mind that tests of statistical significance take into account the sample size. All else being equal, a small sample size makes it more difficult to uncover statistically significant differences between two groups (or subpopulations), but it doesn’t lead to biased results per se. In a random sample, finding a statistically significant difference between, say, average years of education of public schoolers and Christian schoolers depends on (1) the sample size of the two groups, (2) variation in years of education within each group, and (3) the estimated size of the average difference in years of education between the two groups. In some of our comparisons, the size of the difference between Christian schoolers and public schoolers is large enough to overwhelm the other two factors (namely, sample size and within-group variation). In other cases, the within-group variation is relatively small (i.e., nearly all Christian schoolers are similar on particular variables), which also contributes to finding statistically significant differences between evangelical Protestant schoolers and public schoolers despite small sample sizes. In these cases, obtaining a larger random sample of Christian schoolers is very unlikely to change our conclusions about differences between public schoolers and Christian schoolers. Finding statistically significant results is more difficult with the religious homeschooling sector. Some of the estimated differences between this group and public schoolers are very large, even though the small sample size makes it difficult to conclude that these differences are not due to sampling fluctuations. 

In a series of nested regression models, the second model added demographic variables, including gender, race, and age, as well as numerous family background characteristics. Specifically, the education, religious tradition, religious service attendance, and volunteering habits of the respondent’s mother and father were included as controls. How close the respondent was to their mother and father and whether their father or mother pushed the respondent academically was also included in the models. The marital status and living arrangement when the respondent was in high school is also controlled. In particular, a variable is included for respondents who were raised by both biological parents and variables for the number of years that respondents lived with each biological parent. A binary variable for respondents whose parents were divorced or separated is also included in the model. 

In addition, the region of Canada in which the respondent currently resides is included as a control, as is whether the respondent is a Canadian citizen. Other models not shown in the report included controls for the respondents’ current marital status, religiosity and religious tradition, and educational and work status. The models discussed in the report did not include variables for current characteristics of respondents, such as their current religious service attendance, marital status, income, or education. These variables are not included since most of them are used as outcome or dependent variables. And, in most other cases, these variables likely mediate the relationship between schooling experiences in particular school sectors and the outcome of interest. For example, one’s current education likely influences participation in the political process. The more educated are more likely to be involved in politics. One’s schooling history likely influences educational attainment, which in turn influences political involvement. Thus far, however, our analysis has only focused on the direct effects of schooling history on political participation, rather than accounting for the indirect effect that runs through educational attainment. 

Missing values were imputed using multiple imputation techniques, which were based on fifteen imputed data sets for each set of related dependent variables. Appropriate regression models (linear, logistic, and multinomial) were used depending on the type of dependent variable. Coefficients from the regression models are presented in the graphs in this report. Smaller coefficients or those with higher standard errors should be considered essentially identical to zero. (This is reflected in the discussion of findings in this report.) The graphs show both the point estimate and the 90 percent confidence interval (“range”) for each estimate. We can be 90 percent confident that the true relationship in the population falls within this range. When the range crosses the zero line, the difference between that sector and the public-school sector is estimated to be zero based on the estimates and sample sizes available in this data set. Given the small sample sizes of all but the two Catholic sectors and the paucity of data on many of the smaller school sectors, coefficients in the regressions are considered significant if the p-value is less than 0.1. 

INSERT S L I D E S F O R S E C T I O N 1 : WORK AND EDUCATION 

INSERT S L I D E S F O R S E C T I O N 2 : S O C I A L R E L AT I O N S H I P S 

INSERT S L I D E S F O R S E C T I O N 3 : IN (X) WE TRUST 

INSERT S L I D E S F O R S E C T I O N 4 : RELIGIOUS ORIENTATION 

INSERT S L I D E S F O R S E C T I O N 5 : GENEROSITY 

INSERT S L I D E S F O R S E C T I O N 6 : LIFE IN PUBLIC 

INSERT S L I D E S F O R S E C T I O N 7 : STEM 

INSERT S L I D E S F O R S E C T I O N 8 : EVALUATING HIGH SCHOOL EXPERIENCE

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