The Roncalli Report Card
by Dr. Joseph D. Hollowell, 12 mos ago
People make a huge investment in education at Roncalli. Our parishes and our parents are right to ask, "What am I getting as a result of this investment?" This type of question is being asked more frequently with each passing year. It is an important question that each of us should be asking. It is not a question that is new to us at Roncalli. This type of accountability has been around for at least as long as people have been writing tuition checks.
For over a decade now, there has been a broad-based movement toward greater accountability in education throughout the country. Coming primarily as a result of the decline of measurable American educational achievement relative to other countries, this accountability has begun to change the landscape of schooling in the United States. This accountability manifests itself in two different forms. Within the past ten years the state has begun to publicize every school's scores on many of the standardized achievement tests that our students take. These scores are made available on the website of the Indiana Department of Education. In this way every citizen of Indiana, including prospective students and parents, can get an idea of the level of academic achievement of the students to better inform them of the type of education their son or daughter is likely to receive at any given school.
The second major method of accountability for schools is much newer but will be very potent as well. I am speaking now of the launch of the statewide voucher program. Indiana's program is often referred to as the most comprehensive school voucher program in the nation and for now that does seem to be true. The voucher program allows parents much more flexibility in their choice of schools for their children. And it puts pressure on all schools to get better. The voucher dollars will flow to where there is a perception of quality. This introduction of the pressure of "market forces" as a means of school improvement is not new to Catholic schools.
You and I know that most of our families still have to make sacrifices to make the reality of a Catholic education possible for their sons and daughters. Indeed, it is through these sacrifices that school accountability has been happening for generations within our Catholic school systems. Each time a parent writes a check for tuition they are, in their own way, making a decision as to whether or not the sacrifices that they are making on behalf of their child's education are worth it. When enough parents decide that it's not worth it, the check is no longer written and the school subsequently loses enrollment. Sometimes they even close. In this way Catholic schools have always been held to a certain standard of accountability for many decades now.
Because of the environment of accountability in which we now operate, we determined several years ago that it was important to report our academic results on standardized testing to our Board of Directors. Once we went through this exercise we immediately understood it would be advantageous to let our families know of these results as well. It is an effective way to give an accounting of our work with the young people in our charge.
As you can tell from results that are part of this Update, our students and teachers have fared very well and are excelling at an extraordinary level. This becomes even more amazing when you consider that 150 of our students are taking advantage of the STARS program which works with students who have identified learning disabilities!
We welcome this new age of accountability. It is our intention to continue to improve the level of instruction that our students receive in order to better prepare them for the next level of their education.
I thank all of those reading this who have supported our school in so many ways - prayer, attending events, raising funds, volunteering time, shared expertise on our boards and committees, financial gifts, talking to your neighbors, and all of the other things that happen in the life of our school that support our students and teachers. As the enclosed results show - together we have all made Roncalli quite an extraordinary school. I hope you share in our joy!