Archdiocese of Denver schools aren’t “test-centered factories,” but rather Christ-centered communities that seek the “formation of the whole child,” concluded Superintendent Richard Thompson at the end of a week-long on-site review of the Catholic educational system in northern Colorado.
An external review team from the accreditation agency AdvancED visited both archdiocesan high schools and six elementary schools last week as part of a five-yearly review. They conducted 188 interviews with a cross-section of the Catholic schools community, from the superintendents and pastors, to teachers, parents and students. They also observed 74 educational environments.
The Office of Catholic Schools conducts a separate accreditation process for individual schools, but this five-yearly review seeks to assess the strengths and areas for improvement of the entire system of schools.
The AdvancED team consisted of professional peers including several Catholic school superintendents from other dioceses, and according to Associate Superintendent Sister Elizabeth Youngs, S.C.L., offers the Office of Catholic Schools an opportunity to “examine our self-assessment and reflect on it from an objective point of view.”
The external review was completed Oct. 24, which is the first in a series of steps before an accreditation recommendation can be made. Next, a report of the lead evaluator will be submitted to AdvancED Accreditation Division’s national office, and the agency will deliver a written report to the Office of Catholic Schools that can be used as a guide for making continuous improvements to the school system.
According to the exit report, AdvancED uses “an international protocol for institutions committed to systemic, systematic, and sustainable improvement that builds capacity of the institution to improve and sustain student learning, and stimulates and improves effectiveness and efficiency throughout the institution.”
The Office of Catholic Schools oversees 37 parochial elementary schools and two high schools, with a total combined enrollment of 9,540 students.