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What The Standards Are and Are Not

The National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools describes how the most mission-driven, program effective, well managed, and responsibly governed Catholic schools operate. They are school effectiveness standards rather than curriculum content standards, although they support curriculum development consistent with national standards and the Common Core State Standards.

The NSBECS contains three types of statements grounded in Church teachings, best practice, and proven success of those committed to the future of Catholic elementary and secondary education in the United States: 1) Defining Characteristics flow directly from the Holy See’s teaching on Catholic schools as compiled by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, and from statements by Pope Benedict XVI and the American bishops. The nine characteristics define the deep Catholic identity of Catholic schools and serve as the platform on which the standards and benchmarks rest. 2) Thirteen Standards describe policies, programs, structures, and processes that should be present in mission-driven, program effective, well-managed, and responsibly governed Catholic schools that operate in concert with the defining characteristics. The standards address four domains: Mission and Catholic Identity, Governance and Leadership, Academic Excellence, and Operational Vitality. 3) Seventy Benchmarks provide observable, measurable descriptors for each standard.

In itself, the NSBECS does not constitute an accreditation protocol; instead, it provides a sound set of criteria that Catholic school sponsors can confidently use as the basis of authentic Catholic school accreditation and/or evaluation. In itself, the NSBCS does not constitute a set of policies or procedures for operating effective Catholic schools; instead, it lays out the full range of school-related practices that must be included in comprehensive, effective policies and procedures. The NSBECS is a compass, not a how-to-manual.