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Benchmark Rubrics Overview

In early 2012, the Center for Catholic School Effectiveness, School of Education, Loyola University Chicago, with support from AdvancED, brought together a national committee of Catholic educators to develop rubrics for each of the seventy Benchmarks, which schools can use to self-assess their current level of implementation in the four domains of Mission and Catholic Identity, Governance and Leadership, Academic Excellence, and Operational Vitality.  The Rubrics Development Committee consisted of: Lorraine A. Ozar, Ph.D. (Chair), Loyola University Chicago; Susan Ferguson, Ed.D. University of Dayton; Adam Krueckeberg, MBA/MA Pastoral Ministry, Boston College; Kathleen Schwartz, Ed.D., Diocese of Venice FL; Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill, Ph.D., Boston College.

The rubrics provide concrete descriptors of policies, programs, procedures, etc. that are present in schools which have operationalized the particular benchmark on one of four levels:

4= Exceeds the Benchmark
3=Fully Meets the Benchmark
2=Partially Meets the Benchmark
1=Does Not Meet the Benchmark

In addition, the rubrics suggest Possible Sources of Evidence that schools could and should use to provide observable, measurable “proof” of their self-identified rubric level score.

By using these rubrics for self-assessment, schools are guided through an in-depth internal evaluation of the four domains of operations and programs contained in the Standards and Benchmarks. Through the process of gathering and analyzing evidence of school performance on the standards and benchmarks, schools are provided an opportunity to develop and demonstrate the accountability required by quality Catholic educational systems.

All seventy rubrics corresponding to the seventy Benchmarks are available on this site to all Catholic schools and dioceses at no cost.  Permission to use the surveys is granted under the same terms as permission to use the Standards and Benchmarks.

Beginning in Fall 2012, these rubrics will be embedded into the AdvancED evaluative framework for accrediting Catholic schools and dioceses.

How To Use Rubrics

How to Use the Rubrics for Self-Assessment of School Performance
By Lorraine A. Ozar, Ph. D., Loyola University Chicago

In creating the benchmark rubrics, the committee adapted the four-point scale rubric development process described by Robert Marzano (Transforming Classroom Grading. (2000).  School review teams will receive maximum benefit from using the descriptors in the four levels of each benchmark rubric to self-assess local school performance by approaching the rubrics in this way:

Begin with Level 3: Fully Meet the Benchmark.

Level 3 is designed to provide a clear and specific description of what is present, observable and measurable in a school that fully meets the Benchmark. Often, the “fully meets” descriptors in the rubrics essentially restate the Benchmark itself since the Benchmarks were formulated precisely to describe what we expect to find in place in an effective Catholic school. For some Benchmarks, additional descriptors for Level 3 may be added to the original Benchmark statement.  A school operating at this level gives evidence that all elements identified in the Benchmark are present and functioning well.  This is the starting point for the team review of school performance on this Benchmark.

Next, review the descriptors in Level 4: Exceeds the Benchmark

Level 4 is designed to provide a clear and specific description of what is present, observable and measurable in a school that exceeds the Benchmark. A school operating on the “exceeds” level gives evidence that all elements identified in the Benchmark (Level 3) are not only present and functioning well, they are present and functioning on an exemplary level—more effectively, more consistently, more seamlessly integrated, could be a model for other schools. The descriptors in Level 4 will give reviewers valuable information about what needs to be present if the school exceeds the Benchmark, which also clarifies in greater detail what evidence a school can present to show their level of implementation of this Benchmark.  If a school is not yet at Level 4 on the Benchmark, these descriptors contribute to setting goals and action plans for growth.

Review the descriptors in Level 2: Partially Meets the Benchmark

Level 2 is designed to provide a clear and specific description of what is present, observable and measurable in a school that partially meets the Benchmark. A school operating on the “partially meets” level gives evidence that some but not all elements identified in the Benchmark are present and/or some or all elements present are functioning at a beginning, emerging or marginal level.  Reviewing the information in Level 2 also gives the review team additional details about what should be present in the school to score at Level 3, as well points to relevant evidence needed to verify a score of 3.

Finally, review the descriptors in Level 1: Does Not Meet the Benchmark

Level 1 is designed to provide a clear and specific description of what is present, observable and measurable in a school that does not meet the Benchmark. A school operating on the “does not meet” level gives evidence that none of the elements identified in the Benchmark (Level 3) are present and functioning well.  As with the information provided in the other Levels, the information in Level 1 helps review teams clarify what must be present, minimally in Level 2 and then beyond, also pointing to evidence needed for verifying the school’s level score on the Benchmark.

Using these rubrics, schools can gather data about their performance on several levels:

  • They can self-assess their performance in relation to a specific Benchmark. (For example, Benchmark 1.1 or 1.2, etc.)
  • They can cluster all of the Benchmark self-assessed performances for a single Standard to rate performance on the Standard as a whole. (For example, use scores from Benchmarks 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, and 1.5 to rate performance on Standard 1)
  • They can cluster the Standards and Benchmarks performance in a specific domain to identify broader areas of strength and areas of needed improvement. (For example, use scores from all the Benchmarks in Standards 1, 2, 3, and 4 to rate performance in the domain of Mission and Catholic Identity.)

The resultant knowledge of where the school is in relation to the goal (delineated by the Standards and Benchmarks) serves as a solid, data-supported basis for school improvement planning, resource allocation and professional development. The more extensive the evidence presented and used to justify scores on the rubrics, the more powerful and significant the results of self-assessment will be in directing change and empowering growth.


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