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New Standards Will Provide Road Map for Revitalized Catholic Schools Nationwide

3/12/2012 - 9:58 AM PST

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ARLINGTON, VA (March 12, 2012) - A document released in Chicago March 12 will offer, for the first time and all in one place, standards for the operation of effective Catholic schools.

The "National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools" is the result of many years of consultation among Catholic educators. The project was led by the Center for Catholic School Effectiveness (CCSE) of Loyola University Chicago and the Barbara and Patrick Roche Center for Catholic Education of the Lynch School of Education at Boston College with the collaboration of nine other Catholic colleges, the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and others involved in Catholic education.

Although Catholic schools historically have aimed for high standards of academics and spiritual growth, the new document offers clear guidance in a full range of school-related practices that should be included in any school's comprehensive policies. It is designed as a compass, not a how-to manual.

Dr. Karen Ristau, president of NCEA, applauded the work of the educational leaders who created the standards, "The energy and vision behind the National Standards are uplifting. We now have a road map leading to a revitalized Catholic educational network for this century."

According to Dr. Lorraine A. Ozar, director of the Center for Catholic School Effectiveness at Loyola and coordinator of the project, "This is a landmark document presenting the first ever national consensus statement of effectiveness standards and benchmarks for Catholic schools."

Nine Defining Characteristics
The "National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools" set forth nine defining characteristics of Catholic schools, among them: centered in the person of Jesus Christ, distinguished by excellence, committed to educate the whole child, sustained by Gospel witness and accessible to all students.

The 13 standards describe policies, programs, structures and processes that should be present in schools operating in concert with the defining characteristics. The standards are grouped under four broad categories: mission and Catholic identity, governance and leadership, excellence and operational vitality. Each standard includes one or more benchmarks to measure adherence to the standards.

Dr. Ozar added, "It is unconscionable to ask parents to make a choice between high quality academics and faith-based education. Catholic schools have a fundamental responsibility to ensure that their school is absolutely, irresistibly excellent and deeply, authentically Catholic."

Dr. Ristau, whose organization represents nearly 7,000 Catholic elementary and secondary schools nationwide, said, "Tossing the terms 'Catholic identity' or 'Catholic education' about does not mean others know exactly what we are talking about. We cannot assume that everyone agrees what the definition holds in reality. The document presents standards and benchmarks that describe a mission-driven, program-effective, well-managed and responsibly governed school," she said. "It says exactly what a Catholic school is."

Background on the Standards
The idea for the creation of the National Standards came from Jesuit Father Michael Garanzini, president of Loyola, who urged leaders in Catholic higher education including Boston College to join with NCEA leadership to help define an excellent Catholic school. Dr. Ozar and Dr .David Prasse, dean of Loyola's School of Education, gathered Catholic educators from around the country to help identify and confirm the standards.

Dr. Ristau offered this advice to education leaders: "Read, study and discuss the characteristics and standards. Understand them and explore where they exist in your schools. Use the benchmarks to measure your accomplishments. Above all, use them to rejoice in your good work and use them to plan for the future."

NCEA, founded in 1904, is a professional membership organization that provides leadership, direction and service to fulfill the evangelizing, catechizing and teaching mission of the church. NCEA's 200,000 members include elementary schools, high schools, parish religious education programs and seminaries.


National Catholic Educational Association  VA, 22201 US
Brian Gray - Editor,  (571) 451-2878


Catholic schools, standards, benchmarks, National Catholic Educational Association, Karen Ristau


Catholic Schools & Religious Education

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