Chicago Catholic schools to seek further accreditation
BY FRANCINE KNOWLES Religion Reporter August 22, 2013 11:12AM
Updated: August 23, 2013 1:14PM
The Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools will seek accreditation through the world’s largest educational accrediting agency for its elementary schools in Cook and Lake counties to elevate curriculum standards, the religious institution announced Thursday.
The archdiocese will seek accreditation by AdvancED through an outside, two-year process beginning this school year.
All Catholic elementary schools are recognized by Illinois and will continue to participate in that separate process.
The Archdiocese of Chicago Board of Catholic Schools’ Strategic Plan for schools calls for an externally vetted, ongoing school improvement process leading to system-wide accreditation. The AdvancED process fits the plan’s mandate, the archdiocese said.
“This goes well beyond the state standards,” said Sister Mary Paul McCaughey. She noted the state does not require elementary schools to report test scores. AvancED requires that, and the scores are analyzed with a focus on continuous improvement, she said.
“We do what we do to serve our young people,” she noted.
“Our high schools choose this process for individual validation. Including our elementary schools as a district validates that we remain serious about standards for Catholic schools across Lake and Cook counties.”
The accreditation designed for Catholic schools aligns them with AvancED standards and Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools National Catholic Standards.
Schools sponsored by the archdiocese or their local parish will work to meet both sets of standards this Fall.
The standards for continuous school improvement and their vetting by outside evaluators help ensure quality, the archdiocese said. It added that each year schools will collect and analyze data on academics, governance, community engagement, Catholic identity and infrastructure.
The archdiocese serves more than 85,000 students in 250 schools in Chicago, Cook and Lake counties, including 61,679 elementary students at 203 elementary schools. It is the largest private school system in the United States.
Email: Francine Knowles