March 21, 2008

NCEA Convention

Archdiocese of Indianapolis recommended for district accreditation

By John Shaughnessy

Catholic education in the archdiocese recently received a special distinction when the world’s largest educational community recommended that the archdiocese be approved for district accreditation.

“This is a major accomplishment for our archdiocese and our schools,” said Annette “Mickey” Lentz, the archdiocese’s executive director of Catholic Education and Faith Formation. “We are quite pleased.”

The recommendation means that the archdiocese will become just the third diocese in the country to receive district accreditation from AdvancED, the world’s largest educational community that is “committed to advancing excellence in education.”

“I think I can speak with confidence that all of us were extremely impressed with the quality of education being offered by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis,” said Eddie Krenson, senior vice president of non-public school services for AdvancED.

As part of the accreditation process, Krenson led a quality assurance review team of 12 educators from across the United States that spent four days in February in the archdiocese.

The team visited schools, reviewed archdiocesan documents and met with more than 300 students, parents, administrators, teachers and business partners.

In making its recommendation for district accreditation, the review team noted the strengths of the archdiocese’s school system and also included a list of recommendations for continued improvement.

The strengths cited by the review team included the vision, leadership and commitment of Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein to the success of Catholic schools in the archdiocese.

The review team also commended the way that the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Education uses professional development efforts to support teachers’ growth and impact student learning. Another strength is the way the archdiocese uses system-wide data to improve schools and teach students.

The review team also cited the leadership of administrators, teachers and staff throughout the archdiocese, including Lentz, Superintendent of Schools Ron Costello and the staff of the Office of Catholic Education.

“The archdiocese’s commitment to continuous improvement was cited at an exemplary level,” Krenson said.

The report from the review team also listed three major recommendations for the archdiocese. The first recommendation involved developing strategies to recruit and keep effective teachers, principals and administrators, with a special focus on providing improved compensation, health insurance and other benefits.

The second recommendation called for the creation of a long-range, system-wide marketing plan to increase enrollment, support educational programs and promote the Catholic mission of the schools.

“More needs to be done,” Lentz said. “We need to shout our identity of Catholic culture through the rooftops.”

The review team also recommended developing funding strategies that would support new and existing programs, provide just compensation for employees and create equal funding for all schools.

The archdiocese will have two years to submit a report outlining its progress in meeting the review team’s recommendations.

“The recommendations we made, we felt the archdiocese had already recognized as priorities,” Krenson said. “When we look at these recommendations, what we’re looking for is progress—a serious, authentic effort to address them. We have every confidence as a review team and as an organization that the archdiocese will take these recommendations seriously, and they’ll seek ways to implement them.”

The recommendations were not a surprise to Lentz.

“They all fell in the area of recruitment and retention of good educators,” she noted. “We have been working on this area for a long time with, I think, good results.

“Plans really are in place for all of the recommendations. Some are in varying stages from others. Again, there were no surprises. We have two years to work on these recommendations.”

Costello said the archdiocese has to continue to develop ways to showcase the strengths of its schools.

“We have a good message as to what happens when students stay in our schools,” Costello said. “For kids staying in Catholic education, our graduation rate is very high and it helps the student to continue in post-secondary education.”

For Lentz, the accreditation recommendation is all part of the archdiocese’s efforts of striving to offer the best of Catholic education while always trying to get better.

“I continue to be proud of the work we are able to do and are blessed to do,” she said. “I have an excellent schools’ team for whom I am most grateful. They work hard and are totally committed to the mission of Catholic education in this archdiocese.”

(For more information, see “Archdiocese of Indianapolis recommended for district accreditation” at †

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