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Purpose and Use

The GUIDELINES are provided to assist Catholic schools and arch/dioceses as they implement the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools (NSBECS).  The Guidelines offer deeper insights, useful clarifications, essential questions, and next steps that school teams can use to interpret the benchmark rubrics, gather and analyze evidence, and score their school’s performance.  The companion GLOSSARY provides modified definitions and explanations for selected key terms.  To make the best use of the Guidelines, school teams should use them as a resource in conjunction with following the nine steps for scoring benchmark rubrics, outlined in the Guided Process for Rubric Scoring.

Guidelines Background

When school leaders implement the NSBECS, whether for accreditation or for other school improvement planning, they adopt and pursue a process of self-study to determine how well the school is performing in relation to some or all of the benchmarks in the four domains of NSBECS.  Typically, the leadership of a school will establish teams of teachers and possibly other constituents assigned to specific standards and benchmark(s).  In Fall 2012, the Catholic School Standards Project published on this website a set of benchmark rubrics for teams to use in gathering evidence and data to score the school’s performance on benchmarks.  These rubrics were also integrated into accreditation protocols for Catholic schools through a number of Catholic Conferences, AdvancED, and other accrediting groups.

Over the last two years, hundreds of Catholic schools have adopted the rubrics to score school performance.  In addition, a growing number of Catholic universities and colleges have been re-designing their Catholic school leadership programs and professional development for teachers and leaders to align with NSBECS.  Although great effort went into writing benchmarks and corresponding rubrics that would be clear and user-friendly for Catholic school educators, there remains room for interpretation. On the one hand, local interpretation serves to engage and invest the school community in the results of self-study; on the other hand, it may potentially limit the reliability of evidence and data gathered consistently across schools and dioceses. 

As a step toward achieving inter-rater reliability regarding the scoring of school performance on the benchmarks, a group of Catholic university educators undertook the task of creating Guidelines for Interpreting and Scoring Benchmarks.  These educators, members of CHESCS (Catholic Higher Education Supporting Catholic Schools), met in Chicago in February 2013 to outline a strategy for developing and publishing the Guidelines.  From this initial think tank, a smaller Steering Committee led the work of drafting and publishing the Guidelines and Glossary through small committees representing higher education, diocesan and school leadership, networks and NCEA.

Add Voices from the Field

These Guidelines and the Glossary are meant to be working tools.  The Steering Committee welcomes and anticipates feedback from users that will help refine language, broaden examples, and add to the definition of terms in the Glossary.  Any registered user of the Catholic School Standards website may comment and contribute to this project to enhance the effectiveness of the Guidelines and Glossary for use by schools and dioceses in implementing the NSBECS.

Guidelines Authors and Contributors

Many Catholic educators generously contributed their time and talent to develop these Guidelines and the Glossary.  Their dedication and commitment to the continuing excellence and future of Catholic schools is greatly appreciated and deeply acknowledged, along with the extensive support of their institutions to further Catholic education. 


Steering Committee

Lorraine A. Ozar, Andrew M. Greeley Center for Catholic Education, School of Education, Loyola University Chicago (Chair)
Thomas Kiely, Institute for Catholic Leadership, Marquette University   (Mission and Catholic Identity Domain Chair)
Anthony Sabatino, Clinical Associate Professor Department of Educational Leadership, Center for Catholic Education, Loyola Marymount University School of Education (Governance and Leadership Domain Chair)
Susan Ferguson, Center for Catholic Education, school of Education and Health Sciences, University of Dayton  (Academic Excellence Domain Chair)
Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill, Barbara and Patricia Roche Center for Catholic Education, Lynch School of Education, Boston College (Operational Vitality Domain Chair)


Drafting Teams

Domain 1: Mission and Catholic Identity

Thomas Kiely, Director, Institute For Catholic Leadership, Marquette University (Chair)
Erin Barisano, Elementary Assistant Superintendent, Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Kristin B. Melley, Director, Professional Development, Barbara and Patrick Roche Center for Catholic Education, Lynch School of Education, Boston College
Sister Elaine Poitras, CSC, Executive Director, The Foundation for 21st Century Catholic Schools


Domain 2: Governance and Leadership

Anthony Sabatino, Clinical Associate Professor Department of Educational Leadership, Center for Catholic Education, Loyola Marymount University School of Education (Chair)
Regina Haney, Executive Director, Department of Boards and Councils, National Catholic Educational Association
Daniel Ryan, Superintendent, Diocese of Sioux City


Domain 3: Academic Excellence

Susan Ferguson, Director, Center for Catholic Education, School of Education and Health Sciences, University of Dayton  (Chair)
Kathy Mears, Superintendent, Archdiocese of Boston
Susan Nelson, Associate Superintendent, Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Nina Russo, Associate Superintendent Curriculum/School Improvement, Archdiocese of San Francisco


Domain 4: Operational Vitality

Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill, Executive Director, Barbara and Patricia Roche Center for Catholic Education, Lynch School of Education, Boston College (Chair)
Mary Ellen Hrutka, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Catholic Schools Consortium
Pamela Jesse, Dean, School of Education, Lewis University
Adam Krueckeberg, Associate Dean for Finance, School of Theology and Ministry, Boston College
Stephanie Margetts, Educational Consultant, Boston, MA.
Kim Pryzbylski, Secretary of Education/Superintendent, Archdiocese of Miami


Chicago Think Tank Participants:

Loyola University Chicago (Host): Lorraine A. Ozar
Boston College: Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill
Creighton University: Timothy Cook
University of Dayton: Susan Ferguson
DePaul University: Rev. Anthony Dosen
Fordham University: Gerald Cattaro, Patricia Kelly-Stiles
Lewis University: Pamela Jesse
Loyola Marymount University: Anthony Sabatino
Marquette University: Thomas Kiely, Martin Scanlan
NCEA-CACE: Br. William Campbell
Providence College: Br. Patrick Carey
St. John’s University: Rosalba Cerrado Del Vecchio