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 and 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. However, it is not that way in many other schools around the state.
For over a decade now there has been a broad-based movement toward greater accountability in education. This has happened at the federal, state, and local level and impacts us here at Roncalli along with all other schools throughout Indiana. This accountability is most visible in two different ways. About ten years ago the state and local press began to publicize every school’s score on many of the standardized achievement tests that our students take. These scores are also 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 school’s students to better inform them of the type of education their son or daughter is likely to receive and the environment in which learning is taking place.
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. It 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 who can show financial need more flexibility in their choice of schools for their children. Schools that are performing poorly will tend to lose funding and students. In this way schools are pressured by competition to get better.
Another part of the thinking is that affluent families have always had the choice to send their children to private schools. You and I know that most families that send their children to Catholic schools still have to make sacrifices to make the reality of a private education possible. 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. In this way Catholic schools have always been held to a certain standard of accountability to the families who send their children there.
About three years ago, because of these accountability concerns, we determined that it was important to begin to report our academic results on standardized testing to our Board of Directors. Once we went through this exercise we knew it would be advantageous to inform our families of these results. It is an effective way to give an accounting of our work with our students.
As you can tell from the enclosed results, our students and teachers have fared very well and are excelling at an extraordinary level. The range of accomplishment is across the board in all curricular areas. To those who support us through gifts of prayer, funds, volunteer time, notes of encouragement, attendance at games, or writing tuition checks I say thank you. We are trying our best to be good stewards of your investment in our students. I hope you share in the deep sense of satisfaction that we feel as we consider the fruits of our labors. Thank you for standing with us!