January 25, 2013

Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Archdiocese’s Catholic schools make top grades in state ratings

By John Shaughnessy

Catholic schools in the archdiocese have excelled again in the latest ratings by the Indiana Department of Education.

Under the state’s accountability system that rates schools with grades of A to F, 52 of the archdiocese’s 68 accredited schools received an A grade.

With 77 percent of its schools receiving an A, the archdiocese far surpassed the overall percentage of schools throughout Indiana that earned the highest grade—41 percent.

Ninety-three percent of the archdiocesan schools received either an A or a B in the state ratings.

“The report provides yet another confirmation of the effectiveness of our schools in bringing out the best in students academically,” said Harry Plummer, executive director of Catholic education and faith formation for the archdiocese.

“Performance on standardized assessments doesn’t tell the whole story of our success, of course, but they do rather clearly demonstrate that our Catholic schools are effective agents in the game of raising Indiana’s educational standards. In fact, I think it’s safe to say we’re writing the playbook.”

While the grading system still relies on student performance on ISTEP+ testing results, the state Department of Education has placed a greater emphasis on the academic growth of individual students from one year to the next, according to Gina Fleming, an assistant superintendent of Catholic schools in the archdiocese.

“Indiana’s A to F accountability model incorporates student academic growth and graduation rates in addition to college and career readiness,” Fleming noted.

Seven percent of the archdiocesan schools received a C or D grade. No archdiocesan school received an F grade. That 7 percent figure for the archdiocese compares to 39 percent of the schools in the state that received a C, D or F grade.

The archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Education continues to increase its efforts to provide a quality education that meets and exceeds state standards, Fleming said.

“Our focus on rigor is evident through coursework and programming offered at both the archdiocesan and school level,” she said. “These efforts are intended to prepare students with valuable skills—such as collaboration, problem solving and creativity—that are necessary to lead and serve the world.”

The emphasis on faith and values still remains at the heart of that education for students, she added.

“The archdiocese continues to lead the way not only in academic growth and success, but in our fervent desire to develop the ‘whole child’ as individuals who come to know, love and serve God,” Fleming noted.

“While there is no grade for the service and Christian leadership our students and staff members display, we maintain great confidence that all of our schools attain an A in this category.”

(For more information about Indiana’s grading system for schools, go to http://doe.in.gov/improvement/accountability/f-accountability.)

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