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.