A national study led by a Michigan State University economist suggests Catholic schools are not superior to public schools.

Math scores for Catholic students dropped between kindergarten and eighth grade, while math scores for public school students increased slightly.

In addition, Catholic students saw no significant increase in reading scores or better behavioral outcomes between kindergarten and eighth grade.

MSU associate professor of economics Todd Elder says across many outcomes, both academic and behavioral, they don’t find anything that seems to point to a real benefit of Catholic schools over public schools.

The study says one possible explanation for lower Catholic school achievement is that Catholic school teachers typically make considerably less than public teachers which may make it difficult for Catholic schools to attract quality teachers.

Another possible explanation is that public schools have better designed curriculum.

There are more than 2 million students in 6,700 Catholic schools in the United States, according to the National Catholic Educational Association.