School surveys examine Catholic identity

Catholic school students and their parents and teachers will be filling out surveys this week and next about how well their schools promote a Catholic identity. In the file photo above, Holy Spirit School students and students from other Archdiocese of Louisville schools prayed together during the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass held at St. Edward Church Jan. 28. (File Photo by Jessica Able)

Catholic school students and their parents and teachers will be filling out surveys this week and next about how well their schools promote a Catholic identity. In the file photo above, Holy Spirit School students and students from other Archdiocese of Louisville schools prayed together during the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass held at St. Edward Church Jan. 28. (File Photo by Jessica Able)

By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor

Catholic school parents and guardians, students and faculty are being asked this week and next to take two surveys intended to show how well their schools foster a Catholic identity.

The surveys are the first of two sets planned for this school year. All Archdiocese of Louisville Catholic elementary schools and high schools are participating, said Leisa Schulz, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Louisville.

The surveys are part of the archdiocese’s accreditation process through AdvancED. In the spring, another set of surveys will focus on how well schools in the archdiocese meet accreditation standards set by AdvancED, the superintendent said.

“We want as much stakeholder participation as we can get,” said Schulz in an interview last week. “The schools are working to get the word out to be sure parents, teachers and students are going online and completing the surveys.

“Even though we know our schools are excellent, there are always ways we can improve,” she said. “We want an authentic analysis that really identifies growth areas. We are always learning and growing and we can always be better.”

The two surveys this fall will assess the characteristics that define the Catholic identity of a school and the effectiveness of programs that aim to strengthen that Catholic identity. The surveys offer a series of statements and respondents are asked to label how much they agree or disagree with the statements.

Among the statements are, “Our school supports the social, emotional and spiritual growth of every student” and “Our school helps parents/guardians support the faith life of their child.”

Schulz said that accreditation with AdvancED must be renewed every five years. In the past, schools regarded the accreditation process as a special time to focus on school improvements. Schulz envisions something new this time, something that started with the last accreditation in 2012.

AdvancED wants “schools to think about self improvement continuously,” Schulz said. “It should be more of a day-to-day expectation that we’re always thinking about improving, not when we are gearing up for accreditation.

“I don’t think we’re there yet,” she added, but noted that schools are rising to this challenge.

Schulz said principals around the archdiocese have told her they’re excited about the surveys. Since they’ll be administered online, the results can be tabulated quickly, she said, and principals will be able to see how the schools are doing.

Kathy DeLozier, principal of St. Nicholas Academy, said she’s urging her school families to participate and is looking forward to the survey results.

“I think that our voice needs to be heard,” she said, explaining that her school’s demographics are unique. “We have 43 non-English speaking families. We have 30 percent (of students receiving) free and reduced lunch.

“I hope my parents really come out,” she said. “I think we do Catholic identity really well at St. Nicholas and I want them to verify my gut feeling. We’re not worth the money if we don’t have that.”

The computer labs at St. Nicholas will be available in the mornings and afternoons for parents who don’t have access to the internet at home, she added.

The survey results for each school also will be available for the archdiocese to analyze, Schulz said. She plans to pore over the data to capture an overall view of Catholic identity in archdiocesan schools, she said.

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