Archdiocese of Washington Catholic Schools Receive Highly-Prized Accreditation from AdvancED Following Extensive Rigorous Evaluation Process

November 22, 2013

HYATTSVILLE, Md. – The Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Washington today were given high marks and commendation by evaluators from education accrediting agency AdvancED. Fifty-six archdiocesan elementary schools and Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a division of AdvancED. This new partnership has provided schools with a more demanding research-based process that incorporates strategic planning and Catholic standards into school accreditation.

Accreditation is a rigorous process used to validate that schools in the Archdiocese of Washington uphold their Catholic identity, ensure high academic achievement, provide safe and nurturing learning environments and work to continuously improve. In 2011, archdiocesan schools transitioned their existing accreditation with Middle States to the Southern Association of College and Schools in partnership with AdvancED. The decision to change was based on the effectiveness of the comprehensive accreditation process offered by AdvancED that recognizes the relationship that exists between Catholic schools and the archdiocese and incorporates Catholic identity into accreditation requirements.

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to 96 archdiocesan and independent Catholic schools. AdvancED’s accreditation covers the 57 archdiocesan schools. Independent Catholic schools are accredited individually though other national accrediting agencies.

This past week, the Catholic Schools Office of the Archdiocese of Washington and archdiocesan schools hosted an accreditation team of evaluators from AdvancED. This team included 14 school leaders from around the country, many of whom are Catholic school superintendents. The team members reviewed self-evaluations and plans for continuous improvement from the Catholic Schools Office and archdiocesan schools. The team looked for evidence to ensure that schools in the Archdiocese of Washington meet AdvancED’s rigorous standards for quality schools and school systems.

The four day-long evaluation visit included 267 interviews with staff from the archdiocesan pastoral center, pastors, principals, teachers, support staff, parents, board members and other community stakeholders. These interviews were used to discover how school leaders and stakeholders work together to meet the spiritual, academic, social, emotional and physical needs of the students in the Archdiocese of Washington. Team members visited almost half of all archdiocesan schools covered by AdvancED accreditation. During these school visits, team members interviewed school leaders and observed instruction in 259 classrooms. The team spent time reviewing school and archdiocesan data and other evidence that shows how Catholic schools achieve excellence in our academic and faith programs.

At the conclusion of the evaluation team’s visit, the lead evaluator shared the findings of the team. The Archdiocese of Washington was commended for providing a well-managed and active learning environment that offers support and feedback while maintaining high expectations. The team made recommendations for continuous improvement that include increasing training and support for initiatives with a significant connection to technology.

“AdvancED recognized that the Archdiocese of Washington is deeply committed to meeting the unique mission of Catholic schools,” said Tom Burnford, Secretary for Education for the Archdiocese of Washington. “With the leadership of Cardinal Wuerl and the talented staff across our schools, it was clear to the evaluation team that the archdiocese is invested in forming students in the Catholic faith while holding high expectations for academic excellence.”

“This process has allowed the archdiocese to take a deeper look at how we are doing in our mission to educate and pass on the faith,” said Superintendent for Catholic Schools, Deacon Bert L’Homme. “I am proud of the achievement and commitment exhibited by our schools during this process.”

The team will send a written report recommending accreditation of the archdiocesan schools to the AdvancED Accreditation Commission, which is scheduled to meet in January 2014 to formally approve the recommendation.

More information about AdvancED can be found on their website

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 96 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

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