by Jordan Lundberg
The Center for Catholic School Effectiveness (CCSE), part of Loyola’s School of Education, hopes that more Catholic schools start making the grade. On March 7, the Center released a system of criteria in an effort to standardize the quality of education at close to 7,000 Catholic elementary and high schools in collaboration with other Catholic universities and institutions across the nation.
The National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools is intended to “create a common consensus of what makes a quality Catholic school,” said Lorraine Ozar, Ph.D., director of CCSE and chair of the task force charged with developing the initiative.
“[We have set] 13 standards and 70 benchmarks that describe an excellent Catholic school,” Ozar said. Standards include policies and programs to which schools should adhere, while the benchmarks are observable, measureable criteria to identify a school’s current level of excellence, she added.
The standards hold that schools should have a “clearly communicated mission that embraces a Catholic Identity” and “a clearly articulated, rigorous curriculum,” according to the initiative’s website, catholicschoolstandards.org. Benchmarks are set to achieve such standards and include ensuring “all constituents know and understand the mission,” according to the webpage.
The standards were made public on March 12. Ozar said that they were developed for elementary and high schools; universities are not part of this initiative, but she said other standards are already in place for them.
It is up to the governing board and leadership team of any school with sub-par performance to make changes, she said. The CCSE will not impose disciplinary measures for such schools.
“The standards function as a compass used to self-assess,” she said.
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